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Almost half of Australian employees struggle to meet basic living costs as prices soar

Almost half of Australian employees struggle to meet basic living costs as prices soar

Key Findings:

  • Cost of living pressures in Australia are increasing with workers finding petrol, housing, groceries and electricity the hardest things to afford in Q2
  • Almost half of employees (45%) are struggling to meet their basic living costs
  • More employees perceive the Australian economy as not secure
  • Less employees are considering a career change or actively searching for a new role in another company, preferring to remain in their current employment with a pay rise
  • Majority believe cost of living pressures are negatively impacting their wellbeing, particularly among younger generations.

Sydney, Australia 21 July 2022:

Almost half of Australian employees are struggling to cover their basic living costs amid hiked interest rates and rising prices, according to the latest industry research from HR and payroll software provider ELMO.

The ELMO Employee Sentiment Index for Q2 2022 revealed that petrol, housing costs, groceries and electricity were the hardest things for employees to afford over the past three months. The majority (70%) of respondents said the cost of living pressures are negatively impacting their wellbeing, with Gen Z employees being most heavily affected (82%).

The proportion of workers who ranked the economy as ‘secure’ has dropped again to just 14%, after a record low last quarter. This uncertainty may be causing the Great Resignation to dissipate in Australia, with fewer employees considering a career change in Q2 (25% vs. 29% in Q1), and fewer actively searching for a new role in another company (15% vs. 17% in Q1).

Despite their economic uncertainty, the number of employees anticipating a pay rise in the next year rose by six percentage points from last quarter (56%), the highest figure for over a year. Similarly, those expecting a performance bonus jumped by four percentage points to 35%. The continuing talent shortage in Australia is likely driving that trend, with employees feeling more confident in their ability to negotiate.

Commenting on the findings, CEO of ELMO Software, Danny Lessem, said the macroeconomic factors, along with the social, political, and environmental issues impacting Australia and the world, have caused employee priorities to shift.

“Typically in the lead up to an election and certainly post-election, there is rising uncertainty amongst business leaders and employees, until business and consumer confidence takes hold,” he said. 

“The overwhelming feeling of uncertainty is prompting more employees to remain with their current employer with the expectation they will be rewarded for their contribution and loyalty.”

One in two employees are encouraged by the economy to seek a pay increase, with that figure higher among Gen Z (64%) and Millennials (55%) versus Gen X (37%) and Baby Boomers (23%). 

The cold and flu season has also impacted employers more heavily in Q2, with increases in both the number of workers taking legitimate sick days (37%) and those arriving at work while feeling unwell (27%). The percentage who took a mental health day, carer’s or compassionate leave also rose. Yet the number of annual leave days taken in Q2 decreased three percentage points compared with Q1.

Lessem said: “While most employers were encouraging the return to the office in recent months, it’s clear the cost of living pressures, which includes rising commuting and petrol prices, together with the colder winter months means employees will favour more flexible, hybrid and remote working conditions. For many, working from home is likely to be a preferred option to save money and remain healthy, at least in the short to mid-term.”

The insights are the latest findings of the quarterly ELMO Employee Sentiment Index commissioned by ELMO Software and conducted by independent research firm Lonergan Research surveying 1,037 geographically dispersed working Australians. The ELMO Employee Sentiment Index offers insights into the actions, attitudes and behaviours of Australian workers, analysing the prevailing sentiment within the workforce, and tracking changes in perceived job security and the employment landscape each quarter. 

In Q2 the top three employee priorities remained consistent, being remuneration, bonus payments and incentives followed by flexible and remote working conditions and stability of the organisation. And with money being the top priority for workers, the research found overwhelming worker support (87%) for increasing the National Minimum Wage after the federal election. 

When looking at employee recognition and remuneration in April – June 2022, the results were positive. Almost 70% of employees felt recognised for their contribution at work, 63% said they are remunerated fairly and 47% said they are rewarded when the company performs well.

Lessem said executives who have taken note of the severe talent shortage in the market and implemented tailored strategies to reward and recognise top talent will reap the benefits over the coming months.

“The focus for business leaders in the second half of 2022 needs to be on empowering managers to understand the individual personal and professional drivers of their teams,” he said. 

“It’s about implementing the right strategy to maintain engagement while driving a continuous commitment to high performance, collaboration and celebrating successes in a hybrid, health-conscious world.”

Media Enquiries 

Adam Gangemi | TEAM LEWIS | +61 499 178 161 | 
Evelyn Yang | TEAM LEWIS | +61 432 871 726 |

About the ELMO Employee Sentiment Index 

The ELMO Employee Sentiment Index is a quarterly study which examines the attitudes, actions and concerns of Australians in the workplace. The research questions ask respondents to both reflect on the past quarter as well as anticipate the months ahead. The report is completed each quarter to provide a rolling index of Australian workers attitudes and behaviours over time. 


The ELMO Employee Sentiment Report was initiated to gain data and insights into the attitudes, actions and concerns of employees. Respondents were asked to reflect on the three-month period between April 2022 to June 2022. The research was commissioned by ELMO Software and conducted by Lonergan Research in accordance with the ISO 20252 standard. Lonergan Research surveyed 1,037 workers in Australia aged 18 years and over between 14 April 2022 and 22 June 2022. The research was conducted through a 14-question online survey. Respondents were members of a permission-based panel, geographically dispersed throughout Australia including both capital city and non-capital city areas. After surveying, data was weighted to the latest population estimates sourced from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

About ELMO Software 

Established in 2002, ELMO is a cloud-based HR, payroll, expense management and rostering / time & attendance software provider. The company offers customers across Australia, New Zealand and the UK a unified platform to help organisations streamline their people, process and pay. ELMO operates on a software-as-a-service (“SaaS”) business model based on recurrent subscription revenues. For more information, please visit