6 October 2021

Australia’s skills shortage drives new focus on the future of work, HSBC survey

***Survey of 2,100 global companies finds that money is no longer the only factor in attracting the best talent***

***80 per cent of Australian employers believe there is a strong relationship between investing in their workforce and long-term profitability***

***40 per cent of Australian employers now provide financial support for home offices***

The extent to which Australia’s skills shortage is forcing employers to rethink how they attract and retain talent has been highlighted by a new HSBC survey of 2,100 business leaders across 10 global markets.

As competition for talent intensifies, HSBC’s Future of Work survey found employers are reacting to the demands of the workforce beyond financial incentives by placing a strong emphasis on wellbeing and work-life balance. Eighty per cent of Australian businesses reported a “strong relationship” between investing in their workforce and ensuring long-term profitability, compared to 77 per cent of global respondents.

Despite salary and benefits still being perceived as the top factor in attracting people, Australian companies nominated factors such as flexible working policies (46% vs 39% globally) and an emphasis on employee physical, mental and financial wellbeing (39% vs 36% globally) in their top five criteria.

“The full extent to which the pandemic has changed workplace policies is becoming apparent. Business is adapting working arrangements to offer more flexibility and support greater wellbeing, which are becoming pre-requisits to not only retain existing employees but also attract talent in a competitive market place” said Steve Hughes, Head of Commercial Banking for HSBC in Australia.

Local employers are already responding to this new environment – 40 per cent have provided financial support to help employees set up home offices, despite the fact that post-pandemic Australian businesses are less likely to have fully remote or fully flexible workplaces than elsewhere in the world. Just over half (51 per cent) expect to have a partially remote workforce that spends two to four days in the office each week, compared to only 33 per cent who expect to maintain a fully flexible or remote roster.

Interestingly, more than a third (36 per cent) rank flexibility in actual working hours as a top priority in companies which allow remote working.

“The future of work is looking more and more different to 2019. COVID-19 has accelerated both the shift from a physical nine-to-five office and a recognition that employee wellbeing is a critical to success,” Mr Hughes said.

Forty per cent of Australian companies have offered wellbeing resources such as counselling to employees for the first time since the onset of COVID-19, according to the survey. This trend is likely to continue as 40 per cent ranked “managing employee wellbeing” as one of their top priorities over the next year, behind only traditionally core focus areas of cost management and customer service.


In Australia, the HSBC Group offers an extensive range of financial services through a network of 45 branches and offices. These services include retail and commercial banking, trade finance, treasury and financial markets, payments and cash management and securities custody. Principal HSBC Group members operating in Australia include HSBC Bank Australia Limited (ABN 48 006 434 162 AFSL/Australian Credit Licence 232595) and The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited (ABN 65 117 925 970 and AFSL 301737).

Media enquiries:

Rebecca Searl
M: +61 481 060 837
E-mail: rebecca.searl@hsbc.com.au