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An Employer Lens on COVID-19: Adapting to change in Australian workplaces

workers in the CBD

Marian Baird, Myra Hamilton, Lisa Gulesserian, Alison Williams, Sharon Parker

This report provides the first detailed analysis of how Australian employers have experienced and adapted to COVID-19. Between May to October 2020, the research team interviewed 32 leaders, managers and officers at 28 organisations across Australia. Employers from 14 private, 11 government (federal, state and local) and three not-for-profit organisations participated, with between 8 and 35,000 employees in seven states and territories. Employers were in industries including advertising, community services, engineering, fast-moving consumer goods, government, healthcare, higher education, hospitality, insurance, pharmaceutical, professional services/legal, publishing, retail, telecommunications, transport, utilities, and wholesale.

Many surveys on COVID-19 in 2020 focused on worker preferences. This study uniquely focuses on the employer response. While not representative of all businesses in Australia, the actions of the 28 participating organisations and the findings from our analysis highlight innovations in response to government directives to work from home and the emergence of good practices that may transform the work-life balance of Australians.

The findings are reported in five sections, based on thematic analysis of the interview data.

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