Published 21 February 2017 Category: Insights

What matters to employees in Australia

For companies in Australia, the key to employee happiness definitely isn’t what you’d expect—but it’s certainly easier than you’d expect.
According to survey of Australian employees conducted by the Pebble Happiness App and Fast Company, the number one way to boost employee happiness in the workplace is with alcohol. But while that may bring down engagement—or at least, balance—yoga comes in as a hard and fast second, without the detriments of drinking on the job. Exercising, socializing, and meditation also rank high to keep Australian employees happy on the job.
What the survey hints at is the need for an open and flexible office, free from traditional company hierarchies. Commuting and meetings, according to the survey, gave the 10,000 surveyed employees little happiness. Australian employers should start striking the right accord between work and balance in order to best cultivate their employees; otherwise, they risk both an unengaged work force and high turnover, which is as costly as it is detrimental.
This is important—because, unfortunately, Australia’s productivity is falling and costing companies a lot of money. A recent report published by Safework Australia shows that the cost of untreated psychological health problems in Australian companies is nearly $11 billion each year, due to absenteeism, presenteeism and workers’ compensation. It also shows that companies that are bothering to invest in well being, meanwhile, are receiving a hefty return on investment of $2.30 for every dollar spent.   
So what can we do to make the Australian workplace fun, healthy, and productive—ideally, without turning it into a massive wet bar? It’s easy: Let your employees enjoy themselves. Flexibility is a good start. Allow flexible working hours, and even consider flexible working spaces—where you’ll not only massively cut down on costs, but let your employees rub shoulders with budding entrepreneurs and tech-savvy businesspersons brimming with new ideas. There’s also ample space for lounging, and of course, yoga—if not just socializing.
Adapting these new ideas to a traditional space is great idea for your company, too. Our own surveys we conducted late last year found that employees in Australia greatly value the perks often found at flexible office spaces—which isn’t too much of a challenge to bring into the office. For example, your company can start hot desking, and make a dedicated space for relaxing. One of the biggest things that made employees happy in Australia was being located near public transit—so offices that aren’t in a prime location might face some challenges from the get-go. 
One final tip—throw in drinks and snacks when you can. Australia’s Generation Y is spending 150% more on coffee, lunch, and transportation than baby boomers, according to ING Direct.