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Lockdowns add to workplace mental health challenges

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Employees are feeling the emotional toll of lockdowns, with more than two in three struggling to find a balance between work and personal space since the start of the pandemic, according to Allianz Australia.

The insurer says workplace mental health claims, or psychological injuries, are on the rise, going up 5% in the 2020/21 financial year from the previous corresponding period.

The figures are based on data from the insurer’s workers’ compensation underwritten insurance portfolio in Australia and contained in its Finding Balance in the Modern Workplace report released last week.

The average cost per active psychological claim is around 3.5 times that of active claims for physical injuries, based on workers’ compensation data from Allianz’s portfolio in the period from July 2016 to June this year.

“We’ve observed an increase in workers’ compensation psychological claims yearly for a few years now, including over the past year,” Allianz Australia Chief GM Personal Injury Julie Mitchell told insuranceNEWS.com.au.

“This, coupled with the ongoing impact of the pandemic, reinforces the need for employers to tackle workplace mental health proactively.”

She says Allianz research has found the pandemic has accelerated the need for open and honest conversations around mental health.

“While our previous years’ reports revealed mental health in the workplace had a stigma attached to it and open conversations were lacking, our latest research shows employees and employers want to be having these conversations and the topic of mental health is very much appearing in discourse,” Ms Mitchell told insuranceNEWS.com.au.

“However, work needs to be done around empowering people and senior leaders to take action, implement strategies and start having two-way conversations with their employees so people feel supported, and the workplace can thrive.”

The report also contains other significant findings from research commissioned by Allianz.

About 69% have not had a conversation with their employer about their mental health since the health crisis broke out last year and 40% feel there is an expectation to work longer hours due to COVID-19.

The research is based on an online survey of 1049 Australian employees and nationally representative sample of 524 Australian senior managers between July 26 and August 6.

Click here for the report.