Sonder report reveals workplace mental health support no longer fit for purpose


The low uptake of workplace support costing Australian business $20 billion a year.

SYDNEY Monday, 01 November 2021 –Sonder has released the findings from a report which reveals productivity costs resulting from the pandemic are sitting around $20 billion a year due to increased psychological distress, hospitalisations and suicides.*

The report, developed with PwC Australia, reveals that despite record productivity losses caused by mental health issues in the workplace, as low as 5%^ of employees are currently engaging with existing Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs).

Sonder launches this industry-leading report Rethinking workplace mental health and wellbeing - How to keep people well, engaged and productive in a new world of work - to shine a light on workplace mental health and support.

Craig Cowdrey, CEO of Sonder believes the number of people accessing support services is simply too low.

“The real cost of mental health is likely higher than the $20billion estimated. Mental ill-health affects not only an individual - but their entire community of colleagues, friends and family,” he said.

One in five Australians will experience a mental health challenge at some point in their lives. This statistic is likely to be exacerbated by a range of pandemic-related factors including isolation, social distancing, restricted movement, sudden job loss, homeschooling, and lockdown uncertainty.

The report identifies three key reasons employees are not engaging EAP support including lack of inbuilt culture and barriers to access, current solutions not being the right fit and poor past experiences for employees.

Sonder believes that pandemic-related impacts on the workplace is driving employers to review, redesign and address awareness and uptake of workplace support as an important first step.

“We need to fundamentally change the way we approach supporting our teams through a 21st century, integrated health and wellbeing approach that is available when employees need it,” says Mr Cowdrey.

“For example, (48%) of Sonder users request support after hours, and (91%) do it over chat. Traditional EAPs just don’t offer that kind of choice and accessibility and it is what employees are asking for.”

“If we can help employers understand and address the barriers, we can help employees break through them. When surveys show that more than (50%) of frontline doctors don’t know how to access their EAP service, something has to change,” he said.

Employees are increasingly looking to their employers for better mental health support, as part of a broader pandemic-accelerated transformation in the future of work. (87%) of millennials want their employers to implement additional mental health initiatives and would choose better mental health and wellbeing over career progression.

“Early intervention is the key to prevention,” said Mr Cowdrey.

“The good news is that most large Australian companies are starting to recognise the benefits of supporting workplace mental health through more sophisticated support models.”

“A support network that is proactive and human-centric, and examines the whole of person, not just the symptom, is the future of workplace support. It’s time to stop watching worrying statistics from the sidelines and start disrupting the status quo,” he said.

Key Facts:

  • Only 5%* of employees are currently engaging with existing Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs).
  • Productivity costs resulting from impacted mental health during the pandemic is more than $20 billion
  • 87% of millennials want their employers to implement additional mental health initiatives.
  • 48% of Sonder users request support after hours, 91% reach out for help over chat
  • One in five Australians will experience a mental health challenge at some point in their lives.


- Ends –


About Sonder -Sonder is a leading wellbeing and safety company that services around 400,000 eligible members, principally across Australia and New Zealand. Accredited by the Australian Council on Healthcare Standards (ACHS), Sonder’s solution is a technology-driven platform supported by 24/7 safety, medical, and mental health experts.

About PwC -PwC Australia, is a Professional Services firm comprising more than 8,000 people who work towards building trust in society and solving important problems. In Australia alone, the firm delivers quality in audit, assurance, consulting and tax services to more than 5,000 clients, and forms part of a network of firms in 158 countries with over 250,000 people.

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