Co-Authored by Professor Keith Townsend, Dr Ashlea Kellner and Chantal Gallant

Extant research suggests that individuals working in emergency services experience employee burnout, high stress and physical, mental and emotional exhaustion.  This is in part because exposure to trauma is unavoidable in this line of work, which increases the likelihood of mental health conditions, such as depression, anxiety and PTSD.

An ARC Linkage project conducted by professors Keith Townsend, Adrian Wilkinson and Rebecca Loudoun of Griffith’s Centre for Work, Organisation and Wellbeing (WOW) aimed to better understand the organisational factors that affect paramedic and support service staff’s health and wellbeing in the workplace.  The research team conducted approximately 1300 interviews with emergency services employees across Queensland, South Australia and Northern Territory. These findings will inform policies and decisions to improve employee wellbeing, and as an extension, the care provided to trauma victims.

“With approximately one in every five employees interviewed seriously looking for other work, it opens a discussion about the level of employee support and work-life balance that can be promoted in this sector,” says Professor Keith Townsend.

Examples of key findings from this research include:

  • Employees with higher tenure of employment report more symptoms of PTSD
  • Reports of severe and extremely severe anxiety comprised approximately 40% of the sample jurisdictions
  • Fatigue is a major problem for more than half of all staff in each jurisdiction, even when controlling for variables such as age, gender, dependents, tenure work hours and shift length

WOW investigates employee wellbeing through research and consultancy projects in collaboration with industry partners who employ thousands of employees.  Through findings such as those found in theImproving People Management in Emergency Servicesproject, WOW aims to build evidence-based research on the modern workforce to support industry decisions that improve employee wellbeing.