A CEO's guide to building thriving workplaces.

We spoke to Darren Black, CEO of Superfriend to discuss the state of Australian workplace mental health and what leaders can do to create more thriving workplaces.


About Darren Black, CEO of SuperFriend

Darren Black joined SuperFriend as the CEO on 6th September 2022. Prior to SuperFriend, Darren was the CEO of OZHELP Foundation – an industry focused Mental Health and Suicide Prevention organisation that focuses front line support services on high-risk male dominated industries such as Construction, Mining, Transport and Agriculture. Darren is passionate about improving mental health and reducing suicide particularly in high-risk workplaces. This interest was founded over 20 years ago in his first profession as an Army Officer and military veteran.

DB Interview Blog images - 2

Q: Over almost a decade, the Indicators of a Thriving Workplace survey has grown significantly in size and reach.
Could you share with us t
he journey from its inception to where it is today and how this growth has impacted the survey's ability to drive positive change within Australian workplaces and industries? 

A: I think the first thing to say about the indicators of the thriving workplace survey, it's not just a survey. It's the largest and most authoritative research into workplace mental health in Australia.

This is our 9th year running the survey, so that's a journey in itself. What's changed over time is that when we first began the Indicators of Thriving Workplace, mental health was really just in it's awareness raising phase. While there's still a need for awareness raising, we need to shift our focus to taking action.

Today the Indicators of a Thriving Workplace is more about informing businesses and providing insights around what tangible and actionable steps they can take to create more thriving workplaces.

DB Interview Blog images 3


Q: With 2023 marking the 9th year of the Indicators of a Thriving Workplace survey, what do you think are the most significant trends or changes you've observed over this time?

A: A point I touched on in the previous question but worth reiterating, is that since we first launched the survey it's become clear that there is a distinct need to move from awareness raising to taking action in the mental health space. The Indicators of a Thriving Workplace survey is now much more driven to assisting businesses to take action and the thing we need to remember is that workplaces should have a positive impact on people's mental health.

Our findings most recently show that over 30% of people surveyed are experiencing burnout and psychological distress, with nearly 4 in 10 experiencing high levels of psychological distress. And we're seeing more and more people taking time off work for mental health reasons.

DB Interview Blog images 5-1


Q: How do these findings reflect the evolving needs and expectations of Australian workplaces and industries? 

A: We're conscious that lots of people are feeling fatigued post COVID, and there's still a lot of change occurring across business and industries. People seem to be struggling with fatigue and the requirements of their roles, particularly those in leadership positions and managing these roles today are more complex than they've ever been before. It makes sense that our findings indicate that businesses are struggling to keep up.

But it's not all doom and gloom. What we can do is focus on aspects of business that are most important to people. This is where we utilise the Five Domains of Leadership, Work, Design, Safety, Capability and Connection. Through these five lenses we can provide insights that are going to help businesses to improve. These are things that I think have really changed and moved ahead in recent years.

Q: In today’s world is it necessary for organisations to focus on employee mental health and wellbeing if they truly want to succeed? 

A: We at SuperFriend would say yes, organisations these days absolutely need to focus on employee mental health and wellbeing if they want to succeed. Today, organisations actually have a regulatory responsibility to provide a safe workplace for their employees. With the recent changes in national legislation, this means that workplaces must take action to be psychologically safe.

Q: How do SuperFriend's research insights capture the human element of workplace thriving? What steps can organisations take based on these findings to ensure that everyone, from the board room to the front-line staff, can thrive in their workplace? 

The evidence of our research demonstrates that there's a strong correlation between health and wellbeing factors of the workforce and business performance and productivity. We know that people who are healthier, happier and more fulfilled at work and in their roles are less likely to take time off.

One of the first steps an organisation can take, is to take stock of the state of their employee’s mental health and wellbeing at an executive level and beyond. You can find out more about what a thriving workplace looks like and how it is measured by downloading and reading our latest 2023 Key Insights Report.

Interested to learn more about our 2023 Indicators of a Thriving Workplace survey findings?
Download our Key Insights Report now: 

Not sure how you can take action? Ask us how we can help you thrive!




Book a chat

Not sure where to start? Our workplace mental health experts are here to help you.

Book a 15 minute chat
Go to Top