Around six-in-10 financial and insurance services workers say they are likely to hide a mental or physical health condition to avoid being judged, according to a survey of 1000 Australian workers.
Commissioned by the Australian College of Applied Professions (ACAP) and conducted by YouGov in October, the survey also found over half of finance workers surveyed believed their managers did not care about their wellbeing and that their workplace’s mental health initiatives were just token gestures.
ACAP chief executive, George Garrop, said: “In an age where we are repeatedly told ‘to be ourselves’ and that ‘it’s OK not to be OK’ at work, these latest findings suggest that many Australians still feel very guarded in the workplace.
“While over the past two years, many organisations have boosted their mental health, wellbeing, diversity and inclusion initiatives, our research indicates that these initiatives are not always leading to meaningful outcomes or positive sentiment for workers.”
About four-in-10 financial workers surveyed said they did not feel comfortable enough to be open about their personal interests, values, culture or lifestyle at work, according to the survey.
Compared to the national average, financial workers were 7% more likely to want to hide a mental health condition and 5% more likely to believe their workplace had uncaring managers.
A lack of ‘people skills’ among managers and leaders was a key driver behind worker concerns, the research found, with 65% of workers saying their manager struggled with these skills – primarily empathy (27%), effective communication (25%), active listening (21%), flexibility (21%), and emotional intelligence (20%).
The survey also revealed significant differences in perceptions among generational groups, particularly between Gen Z/millennials and baby boomers.
Millennials (54%) were much more likely than baby boomers (34%) to indicate they did not feel comfortable enough to be open about their personal interests, values, culture and/or lifestyle at work.
Meanwhile, millennials (55%) and Gen Xers (53%) were more likely than baby boomers (35%) to say they felt their workplace had introduced mental health and wellbeing initiatives to ‘tick boxes’ while day-to-day, their manager showed little genuine concern or empathy for their wellbeing.