Will higher immigration numbers increase competitiveness in the workforce?

June 2023

About the Study

Have employees in Australia reduced their productivity since the pandemic? Are we working better in hybrid working arrangements? Immigration to Australia commissioned a survey of 1002 Australians to discover whether employees have reduced their productivity since the pandemic and whether higher immigration numbers would motivate them to provide more value to their employers.

With unemployment currently sitting at 3.6%, after fluctuating between a 48-year low of 3.4% and 3.6% since June 2022, the jobs market is now an employee market and many businesses are struggling to find and retain talent. The Immigration to Australia study sought to discover whether this period caused Australians to develop a more relaxed attitude to their work, and whether the return of 195,000 immigrants to the job market would motivate Australians to work harder as foreign workers compete for their role.

The survey respondents matched the geographical and population spread of the Australian population.

During the low unemployment rate period did Australians develop a more relaxed attitude to their work?

More than one fifth (21 per cent) of Australians used period of low unemployment as a time to develop a more relaxed attitude to their work. Of that group 8 per cent didn’t strive to grow in their role, 7 per cent took an hour off ‘here and there’ when working from home, 6 per cent put less effort into their work, 5 per cent became more demanding of their entitlements or pay at work and 4 per cent didn’t engage as much with their team and culture building activities.

Did you develop a more relaxed attitude to your work during low unemployment? If so, how?

By State.

Respondents from West Australia were most likely to have developed a relaxed attitude to work during the low unemployment period, (26 per cent). This was followed by an equal 22 per cent in Victoria and Queensland, 21 per cent in NSW and only 18 per cent in South Australia.

Response State (%)
NSW VIC QLD SA WA
Yes, I put less effort into my work. 6 6 8 6 8
Yes, I took an hour off here and there when working from home. 7 8 9 5 8
Yes, I didn’t strive to grow in my role. 8 7 8 7 8
Yes, I didn’t engage as much with my team and culture building activities. 4 5 4 4 8
Yes, I became more demanding of my entitlements or pay at work. 5 5 5 7 5
No, I still maintained a high level of commitment to my work. 79 78 78 82 74

By Age.

Younger Australians between 18-34 were more likely to reduce their efforts at work during the low unemployment period (32%). Of those aged 35-54 22 per cent reduced their efforts, while only 11 per cent by those aged over 55.

Younger Australians were also more likely to take an hour off ‘here and there’ when working from home (14%) compared to 6 per cent of those aged 35-54 and 2 per cent of those aged over 55.

Did you develop a more relaxed attitude to your work during low unemployment? If so, how? (By Age).

Will the return of 195,000 immigrants to Australia each year motivate Australians to work harder in their job?

Increased job competition as 195,000 immigrants return to Australia will motivate almost a quarter (23%) of Australians to work harder in their job, whilst 15 per cent will continue to have a relaxed attitude to their job, no matter the outcome.

Almost two thirds (62%) of Australians will continue to work with the same high work ethic as they have done already in the last year, regardless of an increase in immigration numbers.

With the return of 195,000 immigrants to Australia each year, the competition for jobs will increase. Do you think this will motivate you to work harder in your job?

By State.

West Australians will be most affected by the return of 195,000 immigrants, with 30 per cent saying the increased immigration numbers will cause them to work harder in their job with more competition for skilled roles. This was followed by 25 per cent of Victorians, 23 per cent of NSW residents, 20 per cent of Queenslanders and 19 per cent of South Australians.

Queenslanders were most likely to continue with their relaxed attitude to work, no matter the outcome(17%), followed closely South Australia (16%), NSW (15%), Victoria (14%) and Western Australia (12%).

Did you develop a more relaxed attitude to your work during low unemployment? If so, how? (By Age).

Did you develop a more relaxed attitude to your work during low unemployment? If so, how? (By Age).

Younger Australians were more likely to continue with their relaxed attitude to work, no matter the outcome (21%), with 15 per cent of those aged 35-54 and 10 per cent of those aged over 55 also remaining unphased.

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