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Workplaces do not have to be big to thrive

By SuperFriend

Have you ever wondered what makes a workplace thrive?

Sunsuper’s workplace wellbeing partner, SuperFriend has found that smaller organisations (2-19 employees) are out-performing their larger peers when it comes to creating mentally healthy workplaces through positive culture, leadership and connectedness, according to their recently released report: 2018 Indicators of a Thriving Workplace Survey.

SuperFriend’s CEO, Margo Lydon says that smaller organisations tend to have smaller, more close-knit relationships which creates a strong sense of care and belonging and enables people to notice when things aren’t right with their colleagues. 

“This opens the door to important, meaningful and potentially life-saving conversations taking place,” said Margo.

“It can also take less time to observe the impacts of wellbeing initiatives in smaller organisations because the changes can ripple through the whole organisation much more quickly.” 

Overall, only 6 per cent of the 5,047 Australian workers surveyed said that their workplace was ‘thriving’. A thriving workplace is one where 80% or more of the 40 scientifically-validated indicators across the five domains of leadership, connectedness, policy, capability and culture are in place. 

Fortunately, SuperFriend also discovered the characteristics of the workplaces that were reported as thriving, and many of these can be focused on by small organisations with little or no costs associated. 

There are some key themes found in workplaces which are thriving…

1. People are committed to their work team (96%)
2. People are motivated to work hard because their job is interesting and important to them personally (95%)
3. People are courteous and treat each other with respect (95%)
4. Efforts are made to help people find purpose and meaning in their work (93%)
5. There is an expectation that all leader’s role model the values of the workplace (92%), and
6. Effective policies and practices against workplace bullying and harassment are in place (91%).



Role model policies for work life integration: It’s good practice and demonstrates the policies are achievable for all.

Understand, explore and leverage team members’ strengths: Understanding strengths at work in new and different ways taps into intrinsic motivation and helps improve personal performance.


Foster high-quality connections: Include time on meeting agendas to check in with how people are feeling, offering space for narratives and stories.

Create spaces to connect: Create informal places for people to interact with others away from their work stations.


Develop and promote a clear mental health & wellbeing strategy and policies and practices against workplace bullying and harassment.

Complete regular policy reviews: Include people in groups responsible for the implementation and continuous improvement of the mental health and wellbeing strategy.


Customise job roles: Consider customising jobs to increase job control and job satisfaction for people.

Complete a regular learning needs analysis: Understand the skills and capabilities needed to protect and promote people’s mental health and wellbeing.


Complete a culture survey: Invite people to provide feedback and to share key findings and organisational actions.

Set organisational goals: Create goals that contribute towards building a better society or community.


By SuperFriend 

Sunsuper is here to “inspire and empower Australians to fulfil their retirement dreams”. This article is part of our ‘Wellbeing series’ which we have created with SuperFriend to provide our small business employers with information that is tailored to their unique needs. 

SuperFriend is a workplace mental organisation and does not provide clinical health advice, crisis or professional services. For more on how to build a thriving workplace, sign up to SuperFriend’s newsletter for regular updates.