The atWork Australia Job Seeker Wellbeing Index

How atWork Australia is improving the wellbeing of people looking for work in Australia

Unemployed people looking for work have significantly lower wellbeing compared to people who are currently employed. Skills and past experience are not enough for a job seeker to find and keep a job. Job seekers also need social, mental and physical capabilities to meaningfully engage with an employment opportunity, and to maintain it.

The atWork Australia Job Seeker Wellbeing Index

In partnership with Huber Social, atWork Australia has developed the atWork Australia Job Seeker Wellbeing Index to enable the employment services sector to understand the needs of many different job seekers and to identify key opportunities to focus on continuously improving their overall wellbeing. As we know, when support provided is holistic and practical, people looking for work are much more likely to find sustainable work.

The Index provides data driven insights on the needs of the different job seekers across eight key subgroups: (i) females (ii) First Nations peoples (iii) people living with disability, injury, or health condition (iv) youth (v) mature aged (vi) culturally and linguistically diverse (vii) refugees and (viii) people with prior justice system experience.

Launching the atWork Australia inaugural Wellbeing Index, The Hon Luke Howarth, Federal Assistant Minister for Youth and Employment says, “The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in the most severe global economic crisis since the great depression. As we emerge from lockdowns, the ability to bounce back and help people back into employment is more important than ever, and it’s particularly important to me and the role I’m in. The Australian Government is really focused on a jobs-led recovery, and we want to help job seekers into work, just like atWork Australia do.”

View the Hon Luke Howarth, Assistant Minister for Youth and Employment launching the atWork Australia inaugural Wellbeing Index available here.

Key Finding 1: The current wellbeing of job seekers is low

The average wellbeing of Australian job seekers is low, measuring 19% lower than the wellbeing of employed Australians. Of particular concern are the 9.4% who rate their satisfaction with life at the lowest level. This means about 60,000 Australians are facing real challenges and are in need of support.1

People need to have their most important needs satisfied to be in the best position to find the right job for them.

Low wellbeing indicates that the key needs of job seekers are not being met, which suggests that even if people were placed in a job their wellbeing would not improve and they would therefore be less likely to stay with that job.

Key Finding 2: The top five wellbeing needs are consistent across all job seekers

The Index reveals that the same five principle needs are important to the wellbeing for all job seekers. These needs are:

  • Being proud of one’s achievements
  • Being heard and respected by others
  • Having access to sufficient financial resources
  • Liking oneself (self-love)
  • Having a sense of purpose

Overall, job seekers who are proud of their accomplishments, who have a strong sense of purpose and self-love, who feel they have sufficient financial resources and who feel respected by others are more likely to have higher levels of wellbeing compared to other job seekers.

Key Finding 3: Access to financial resources is a priority need for job seekers

“Financial assistance for police checks and certificates, possibly financial help for getting to interviews. It’s the biggest barrier to gaining employment, especially when undergoing financial hardship.” – Male job seeker, metro-based, culturally and linguistically diverse

While having access to sufficient financial resources (for example financial support for interview clothes or work shoes, or for transport to get to interviews) was one of the top needs for job seeker wellbeing, it was also one of the lowest scoring outcomes across all job seeker groups. This indicates that this need is not currently being met and should therefore be considered a priority area for employment services providers to direct resources towards, in order to have a meaningful impact on job seeker wellbeing, and to move people looking for work towards sustainable employment.

How atWork Australia meets the needs of job seekers

As a leading provider of employment services in Australia, atWork Australia understands that beyond vocational skills and expertise, a person requires the social, mental and physical capability to engage with and maintain employment, and all the positive outcomes that come with it.

atWork Australia’s holistic approach to employment begins by understanding a person’s goals and aspirations before working to build their capability and match them with the right opportunities. Our programs such as Positivum™, developed in partnership with Monash University, offer online one-on-one health and wellbeing coaching to understand the health and wellness of people looking for work, and to remove barriers towards work and get them job-ready.

It’s important that we connect people with work that fits not only their skills but also their aspirations and values enabling both them and the businesses they work for to thrive. We understand that good quality employment is good for improving mental health, and employment can decrease the risk of depression, and we know the profound impact work has not only on their individual mental health, but the wellbeing of their family, friends, and the wider community.

Work provides the foundation to fulfil a person’s potential and live a life they value.

What’s next for the Index

As the Index aims to support more sustainable employment solutions across Australia, annual measurement of job seeker wellbeing would provide a metric for tracking progress across the sector.

“The Index provides a data driven road map for improving the wellbeing of job seekers, demonstrating that when support is holistic and practical, people looking for work are much more likely to find sustainable work”, says Group Executive Employment Services, atWork Australia, Sotir Kondov.

To gain even greater insights into the long-term impact of improved wellbeing on employment sustainability, measuring the wellbeing of recently employed job seekers is the next step. With this evidence, atWork Australia can continue to redefine employment standards for those underserved by the sector and be a leader for equitable employment opportunities for all people and communities.

The information can enable employment services providers to support people to be better placed to connect with opportunities and secure sustainable employment, thus delivering better outcomes for the individual, the employer and the community at large.  “When factors that contribute to a job seekers’ wellbeing are addressed, the result will be better opportunities to meaningfully engage with and maintain employment opportunities,” Sotir said.

Download the full atWork Australia Job Seeker Wellbeing Index

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Job Seeker Wellbeing Index

1. As of July 2021, total unemployed is 639,200 people. Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics (2021). Labour Force, Australia. Available at: https://www.abs.gov.au/statistics/labour/employment-and-unemployment/labour-force-australia/latest-release