Working for the Future: A National Survey of Employees


DCA’s national, representative survey of Australian employees measuring employment conditions, diversity demographics, employee engagement and well-being, productivity, business effectiveness and workforce planning capacity.

The study of the attitudes of Australian workplace participants has shown that companies that fail to keep up with community expectations about key issues like work-life balance and respectful and inclusive workplaces are at risk of lower productivity and higher staff turnover.

Some key findings:

Managers with care-giving responsibilities are rated higher:

  • Their employees reported greater work-life satisfaction (51% extremely or very satisfied vs 42% of people whose manager had no care-giving responsibilities), greater access to flexibility, more positive work-life culture and their manager and co-workers being supportive of work-life (78% strongly or somewhat agreed vs 71% of people whose manager had no care-giving responsibilities).

Generic managerial capability is pretty good:

  • 83% agreed their manager has expectations of their performance on the job that are realistic, 81% agreed their manager is supportive when they have a work problem and 79% agreed they keep them informed.

But managerial capability around part-time work is not as good:

  • Employees have to choose between advancing in their jobs or devoting time to personal life (51% strongly or somewhat agreed).
  • The advancement and growth of part-time employees is actively supported (55% strongly or somewhat disagreed with this statement).

Work-life is one of the top employment drivers:

  • Flexibility is more important for parents “ it is the top employment driver (50% for parents vs 39% non-parents).
  • Almost one in five employees (18%) strongly agreed or somewhat agreed that they had considered resigning in the last six months due to lack of flexibility.

Paid parental leave is important in retention:

  • 55% of women who had no paid parental leave were ‘very likely’ to make a genuine effort to look for another job versus 26% of women on full paid parental leave.

Flexibility satisfaction and dissatisfaction:

  • 77% strongly/somewhat agreed they have the flexibility to manage personal/family responsibilities.
  • 48% strongly/somewhat agreed that it was very difficult to work part-time and have a career in their organisation.

Gender matters with part-time work and parental leave:

  • People with male supervisors were less likely to agree that the advancement and growth of part-time employees is actively supported (50% vs 60% people with female supervisor).

Discrimination and having an inclusive, respectful culture:

  • High levels of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation were reported (16% gay employees and 8% bisexual employees vs 1% heterosexual employees).
  • Indigenous Australians were up to six times more likely to experience inappropriate workplace behaviour than non-Indigenous Australians.
  • People with disabilities were twice as likely to report having experienced an incident of discrimination (21% vs 9% people without disabilities).

Want to Use Our Research?

DCA encourages members to access and utilise our research.

Where you wish to refer to our research publicly, it must be correctly attributed to DCA.

  • Formal attribution to DCA is required where references to DCA research material are in a written format.
  • Citing DCA as a source will suffice where the reference is made in a verbal format.

Notwithstanding, Members must not provide links or detailed information about Member-Only information.

The suggested citation for this report is:

Diversity Council Australia, Working for the Future: A National Survey of Employees, Sydney, Diversity Council Australia, 2010.

For more information on use of Members Only Content and Copyright, please see our Membership Terms and Conditions.

The rest of this content is restricted to DCA members.

To find out more about joining DCA please see below.

If your organisation has already signed up for membership, this will activate as soon as payment is received.

Learn more about membership   Sign up for a membership