71% of Australians are socially less interactive than pre-pandemic

Paula Allen, Global leader and Senior Vice President for research and total wellbeing at LifeWorks

LifeWorks, a provider of digital and in-person total wellbeing solutions, released its monthly Mental Health Index™ showing 71% of Aussies are happy with less social interaction than pre-pandemic and that this group has a mental health score two points higher than average.

Additionally, more than half of Australians are, or possibly are, rethinking their career goals in terms of both focus and longevity as a result of the pandemic. The Index found that workers are still under strain with a negative mental health score for the 23rd consecutive month.

While the score did improve when compared to January, this month’s score remains lower than the pre-pandemic mental health benchmark of 0.0. The score for the month of February 2022 is -11.8, a slight improvement from January’s score of -11.9.

Effect of the pandemic on the job industry

Prolonged impacts of the pandemic are driving working Australians to consider career changes that may include retraining, not just job changes

  • 36% of Aussies have altered career goals due to the pandemic, with workers aged 40 and younger 65% more likely to report their goals have changed than those 50 and older.
  • 15% of Australians will make a career change. This group has a mental health score of -20.8, more than nine points below the national average.
  • 31% are considering retraining for a different career.
  • 15% are considering retiring and this group has the second-highest mental health score.
  • Managers are nearly 70% more likely than non-managers to report they will be making a career change because of the pandemic.

Positive social experiences helpful for wellbeing

Senior vice president managing director, APAC, Jamie MacLennan made these remarks on the survey. “The many challenges and uncertainties that workers have faced over the last 23 months continue to impact Australians on both a personal and professional level.”

“It has also altered how employees view the future of their careers. While acknowledgement of this trend is an important first step for employers, tangible action is required to ensure employees remain committed to not only their organisations, but their fields at large.”

Global leader and SVP, research and total wellbeing, Paula Allen said, “With isolation, remote work, and social distancing becoming the new norm, individuals across Australia have become accustomed to and comfortable with reduced social interactions.”

“As organisations prepare for a return to their post-pandemic environment, it would be wise to be aware that previous levels of interaction may not return immediately.”

“Managers should focus on ensuring that employees feel connected wherever they are working from. Individuals should be aware that less social interaction may not be in their best interest, as positive social experiences are helpful for stress and wellbeing.”

The full Australian LifeWorks Mental Health Index™ report can be found here. This month, the report includes additional insights on Australians’ ability to be themselves at work and the prevalence of career changes unrelated to the pandemic.