Low paid employees on AWAs are much less likely to trust their bosses or feel secure in their jobs, a new report by Monash University researchers has revealed.
The survey of more than 1000 employees found that two-thirds of all low-paid workers trust their employer to keep their promises, while just 15% say they feel insecure in their current job.
When employees earning similar amounts under AWAs were questioned, however, the results changed dramatically. Over 32% of low-paid employees on AWAs said they felt insecure in their jobs, more than twice as many as other employees.
Over 32% of employees on AWAs also disagreed with the proposition that they trust their employer, compared to just 13% of other low-paid employees.
Employees on AWAs were also significantly less likely to say that relations between management and employees are good, although a majority of all employees – 65% of those on AWAs and 75% of others – still said relations were good.
The lead researcher on the study, Monash Graduate School of Business director Julian Tiecher, says the vulnerability of low-paid workers on AWAs, particularly those in small businesses without unfair dismissal protection, was the most likely explanation for the study’s findings.
“On the whole employees are happy, as they were three years ago when we first did this study, and that high degree of satisfaction continued in this survey. But underlying that there are areas where performance could clearly be improved,” Tiecher says.
Interestingly, according to Tiecher, the proliferation of studies and advertising that have highlighted that protections have been removed from some workers under WorkChoices could have also influenced how secure and happy employees on AWAs feel.
Whatever the cause of this dissatisfaction, however, Tiecher says employers should be aware that there may be hidden costs associated with moving staff on to AWAs.
“Employers have to ask themselves, do I care about my employees being unhappy, is this a workplace where morale and a sense of loyalty matters, or are people just widgets?” Teicher says. “If they’re not widgets, you really need to think about how to create a sense of involvement because there’s a wealth of research out there that says happy workers are more productive.”