Australian workers have become more convinced that their employers should speak out on social issues during the pandemic, a new survey conducted for software giant Atlassian shows.
Employees are also far more concerned about mental health and increasingly demand to work from home, the survey by consulting firm PwC shows.
The survey found that 74% of employees agreed that it was just as important for companies to be as concerned with social issues as with their financial results, up 5 percentage points from last year.
And 37% said they were prepared to quit if their employer acted in a way inconsistent with their values, up 6 percentage points from the previous survey.
Mental health and wellness was ranked the top issue, ahead of access to healthcare and the cost of living.
Atlassian co-founder Mike Cannon-Brookes said the pandemic appeared to have caused people to “somewhat reevaluate their life priorities”.
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“A part of that is, where do I live and what do I want to spend my time doing, but it is also I think going to cause them to reevaluate, like, the company I work for – at some level, what do they stand for? Is this the job I want? Is this the stress level I want? All of these sorts of things.
“So it doesn’t surprise me that that’s going to result in people advocating or agitating, whether that’s to their existing employer or choosing to leave and go work somewhere else.”
The survey, of 1,225 Australian workers, found that 42% of employees would consider changing jobs so that they could work from home, rising to 50% among Gen X workers.
Cannon-Brookes said that since the middle of last year Atlassian no longer required employees to ever set foot in the office – although they could if they wanted to.
“I would say it’s been highly successful here – we’ve still got a lot of things to do, but we don’t ever expect to mandate people to come back to the office again,” he said.
“For all the people who want it to go back to normal, quote unquote, it’s not normal, the new normal is not going to look like it did in the past.”
The work from home option had helped attract talent in a labour market that has tightened because software companies have not been able to bring people in on work visas, an employment option of which Atlassian has in the past been a heavy user.
“The demand [for talent] is outstripping supply, and there’s no way of growing that supply in the last four months,” he said. “Education is a long term [issue]… there’s decade-long supply changes we need.”
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He said Australia also needed to adapt to the reality of tariffs on carbon. The European Union has announced a “carbon border adjustment mechanism”, and the US is considering a similar tax.
“We have to fucking get used to the fact that carbon border taxes are going to be a thing,” Cannon-Brookes said. “This is going to hurt the Australian economy massively unless we do something about it.
“The thing to do about it is to actually take some fucking action on the problem.
“It’s going to affect our exports, whether it does in this round or the next round, if you look over the five, 10, 20-year period.”