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2020 positioned more uncertainty to teams and workplaces than any recent year.

Pandemic anxiety has changed daily habits, confusion has put people on the edge, and physical separation has left many isolated. While trying to adapt to these changes, many Australians have raised questions about their declining mental health.

According to an ABS report, 45 per cent of Australians between the ages of 16 and 85 will have a mental health condition in their lifetime. Untreated mental health problems are estimated to cost around $10.9 billion a year to Australian workplaces. This includes $4.7 billion in absenteeism, $6.1 billion in presenteeism, and $146 million in reimbursement claims.

The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in mental health and wellbeing becoming a major subject of discussion. In 2021, Workplace Mental Health trends will foresee businesses requiring a ‘health care company’ as the safety of employees and customers becomes a crucial necessity for doing business.

Following are some mental health trends for the 2021 workplace:

1. Emphasis will be on cultivating a resilient workforce

Resilience is the capacity to resolve obstacles and step forward in the face of adversity. Promoting a resilient workforce is important, as businesses will be forced to constantly adjust to the changing environment.

Resilience skills can be acquired, tweaked and nurtured. To help develop a healthy and resilient workforce, employers will need to incorporate resilience training into their workplace wellness offerings, concentrate on building holistic wellness plans in their compensation package, and improve their leaders’ mental health education.

Action tips for employers
Integrating remote learning will be crucial. On-line services will provide the advantage of being able to meet professionals who can facilitate personalised mental health strategies to the team without the normal travel and company interruption.

Throughout 2021 multiple check-ins will be needed incorporating pulse surveys and focus groups to track progress.

2. Employee psychological wellbeing will be a priority for every leader

The pandemic has fundamentally altered workplaces and the way we conduct work. Many businesses have moved to remote working environments and taken steps to promote this transition. This trend is likely to stay for the foreseeable future.

Leaders need to acknowledge that workers carry the realities of their lives to the workplace on a regular basis. If a person is dealing with a personal relationship or a health problem, this is likely to be carried into the organisation.

Without regular face-to-face interaction, it will continue to be difficult for leaders to determine whether their teams are overworked or taking the right steps to protect their health. We know support for managers is important in maintaining a healthy working climate and in promoting active engagement in well-being activities.

Action tips for employers:

By engaging in mental health-related leadership training on how to identify mental health problems and participate in supportive mental health discussions, organisations will assist their leaders understand and actively foster healthy mental health within their teams.

One of the most effective ways businesses can improve mental health is to enable staff to take full advantage of annual paid leave days, mental health days and holidays.

3. A more holistic approach to employee health benefits will be necessary

The solution to enhancing organisational efficiency is a healthy and committed workforce – and recognition of this is seeing employee wellness rise rapidly within business agendas.

Mental health initiatives will become more balanced and inclusive of all forms that facilitate employee wellbeing.

Action tips for employers:
A healthy workplace atmosphere should be underpinned by successful two-way communication with employees to encourage change. This includes listening to workers to learn their health problems and the challenges they face to a healthy life. Regular employee-centered correspondence on welfare issues should be developed using resources such as social media to increase engagement.


Safeguarding your workforce is a critical necessity if you aim to thrive as an organisation. HR professionals and business leaders will need to concentrate on creating resilience, improving comfort around supportive mental health conversations and tailoring their benefit programs to resolve current challenges to survive and succeed.

At the dawn of a new year, it is time to reflect and think about what kind of atmosphere you would like to create for your business.

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