Victorian business support will help financially but not mentally

Published August 06, 2021 -
Vic Business Support

The emotional toll of reopening a business, only to have it close due to another lockdown, is adding to the stress of employers who are uncertain of what the future holds for them.

Victoria is now in its sixth lockdown – the third since the end of May. While the recently announced small business relief package is helping some financially, it’s the mental health of employers that is feeling the true impact of repeated lockdowns.

Employsure, Australia’s largest workplace relations advisor, has seen an increase in calls to its employer advice line over the past three months from employers concerned on how restrictions are impacting their business.

“We’ve seen a dramatic 67% rise in mental and physical health and safety related calls over this time period from employers struggling to hold their business together, even with the financial support they’re receiving,” said Employsure employment relations specialist Nicholas Hackenberg.

“There’s also been a similar 66% increase in calls related to employee absence, a 26% rise in entitlement queries, as well as a sharp rise in terminations from heartbroken employers who simply can no longer afford to keep their staff on their books.

“Employers across the state have now been placed into a world of uncertainty for a sixth time and will again sadly be feeling the all too familiar sense of anxiety and stress.”

Employers over the coming days should plan for the worst and hope for the best. Going into cash preservation mode could be more important now than ever before, especially in a post-JobKeeper world. Employers need to assess what costs can be fairly cut, and make changes to protect their cash flow. They should also consider their options for retaining, standing down, or making staff redundant during the lockdown.

Those working from home will also be feeling the pinch of lockdown. To support staff, employers should regularly check in on them to identify any issues that might impede their work. Because everyday encounters with colleagues do not happen spontaneously with those working from home, employers should urge their employees to reach out to their peers to maintain a social connection.

Staying connected not only helps reduce stress and the feeling of isolation but it can boost productivity. It also helps employees communicate with their manager and team to keep them informed of what project they are working on. To keep better track of employees, business owners should use employee management software such as BrightHR to manage sickness, rosters, work locations and all other sensitive information and documents.

“Some businesses are resilient and managed to effectively pivot operations where applicable. For others however, a sixth lockdown could be the final nail in the coffin,” continued Mr Hackenberg.

“The cost of running a business is far greater than what financial support could ever offer. While lockdowns are needed until our vaccination rate improves, unfortunately we’re going to see more unnecessary closures from emotionally drained employers who simply can no longer cope.”

Further enquiries:

Matthew Bridges

[email protected]

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