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Tuesday, 12 October 2021 10:54

Workers’ confidence in the economy lowest at this year but support for vaccinations remain high

By Elmo Software

GUEST RESEARCH: Workers’ confidence in the economy has plummeted to its lowest level this year while support for employer-mandated COVID-19 vaccinations and tracking has soared, according to the Elmo Employee Sentiment Index for the September quarter.

The index reveals that workers who rate economic security as ‘not secure’ has spiked to 30%, an 11-percentage point rise from the June (19%) and March (20%), the highest on record this year.

Workers in Victoria were the highest to report the economy as ‘not secure’ (34%) and New South Wales on 31%.

Workers are also cautious about the security of their industries. ‘Secure’ ratings dropped by 5%. There was a four-point rise in workers considering their view as neutral.

Less than half of workers believe that their job is secure with 46% rating their job as ‘secure’. This is down on both the March quarter high of 55% and the June quarter rating (47%).

Lockdowns and declining perceptions of economic security may be behind soaring support for tougher COVID-19 measures in the workplace. There has been an eight-point rise (70%) in support among workers who want companies to require their employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19 (up from 62% in June).

Workers also reported they are uncomfortable working alongside unvaccinated colleagues, climbing to 58%, a 14-percentage point rise from June.

On the other hand, workers are comfortable with their employer knowing their COVID-19 vaccination and test status. Employers knowing an employee’s vaccination status is supported by 88% of workers while knowledge of test status is supported by 89% of workers.

Four in five (79%) also support the usage of vaccination passport.

The largest rise has been seen in perceptions of Australia’s vaccination roll-out with two thirds (66%) of workers believing Australia is on track with its vaccination roll-out. This is up significantly from the June quarter (41%).

Two thirds (66%) believe Australia is on track with its vaccination rollout. This is up significantly from 41% last June.

Lockdowns and feelings of greater insecurity may also be behind a quarter-on-quarter rise in the proportion of workers taking a mental health day. The September quarter saw 16% of workers report taking a mental health day in the past three months. This is up from 14% June and 12% in March.

Elmo Software CEO Danny Lessem says employers need to take heed of the message being sent by workers.

“Workers are feeling more insecure than they have at any point so far this year. They are worried about the state of the economy, their industry and their jobs. It’s up to employers to try and allay their fears,” Lessem stresses.

Lessem attributes the drastic shift in perceived economic security to the lockdowns in New South Wales and Victoria.

“When it comes to working with the virus, workers are supportive of their employer introducing tough measures to keep the workplace safe. Whether it’s mandating vaccinations or tracking vaccination and test status, the great majority of workers are on board,” Lessem says.

“A tough challenge is emerging for employers. The proportion of workers uncomfortable working alongside unvaccinated colleagues has climbed to 58% of the workforce. This is going to take consultation and a deep dive into the data behind the workforce to understand how to move forward,” he says.

“The Employee Sentiment Index has also found a double-edged sword for employee well-being and mental health. The proportion of workers taking mental health leave has climbed quarter on quarter this year. While it's positive that people are prioritising their mental health, it is alarming that more and more people are struggling with their mental health,” he concludes.

The Elmo Employee Sentiment Index is commissioned by Elmo Software and conducted by independent research firm Lonergan Research each quarter among more than 1,000 geographically dispersed working Australians. The poll data is weighted to the latest Australian Bureau of Statistics data.

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