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LegalMarch 02, 2022

Tips for crucial conversations at work as COVID-19 pandemic enters 3rd year

In a wake-up call to executive teams and managers patting themselves on the back for how they have valiantly guided their teams through the pandemic, Allianz has released 2 guides with tips to help Australian managers and employees confidently spark “crucial conversations” in the workplace, particularly about mental health.

A “crucial conversation” is defined as a discussion with high stakes, differing opinions and strong emotions (eg conversations about promotion, pay rises, resigning, bullying and harassment).

Allianz-commissioned research reveals psychological injury claims have increased 12% since the pandemic began (based on data from December 2019 to December 2021). However, almost 1-in-2 employees feel uncomfortable having conversations about their concerns in the workplace with their managers, and many managers feel ill-equipped to deal with such conversations.

The research highlights the difference in perception between employees and managers about their track-record on crucial conversations.

Handling the pandemic

  • 90% of managers feel satisfied with how their organisation has worked to facilitate a more mentally healthy work environment in the last 12 months.
  • Conversely, only 20% of employees stated that they are very satisfied with their employer’s ability to create mentally healthy workplaces.

Managers’ perceptions of check-ins and crucial conversations

  • 38% of managers reported they have a crucial conversation with their direct reports about mental health every month.
  • Only 25% managers say they will proactively approach team members to check in with them and create opportunities to engage in crucial conversations.
  • 16% of managers reported that they haven’t had a crucial conversation with their direct reports in the last year.

Employees’ perceptions of check-ins and crucial conversations

  • 33% of employees reported they haven’t had a crucial conversation with their employer in the last year.
  • Only 25% of employees felt comfortable starting a conversation about their concerns in the workplace with their manager.
  • 25% of employees said they only speak with their managers once a month.

The pandemic has presented challenges in workplaces across all industries, with the mental health of employees becoming one of the most pressing challenges at managers’ doorsteps

It is more important than ever that managers engage in crucial conversations with their teams to foster a safe and healthy working environment for the long term.

Julie Mitchell, Chief General Manager Personal Injury at Allianz Australia
  1. Allianz, How to navigate crucial conversations: A guide for managers, 16 February 2022.
  2. Allianz, How to navigate crucial conversations: A guide for employees, 16 February 2022.
  3. Navigate to information about managing COVID-19 and workplace issues from our COVID-19 information hub.

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Annelies Herrmann
Content Management Analyst, Wolters Kluwer
Annelies has considerable experience in writing and editing at Wolters Kluwer, having managed the Employment Practice Area. She now brings that experience to bear as the content management analyst for the Defamation Law, Property Related Torts and Economic Loss, and Workers Compensation Practice Areas.
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