Early and mid-career researchers (EMCRs) represent a significant part of the academic workforce and face notable challenges related to funding scarcity and insecurity, as well as having limited experience navigating academic careers. Alongside workplace behaviours more generally, these challenges are expected to be key contributors to the wellbeing of the EMCR cohort and could be actively addressed. Our research aimed to identify and quantify the experiences of three hundred EMCRs in Melbourne and provide evidence-based, collaboratively designed solutions to meet these challenges.
EMCRs experienced heavy workloads and job insecurity, as well as describing an effort-reward imbalance. Many had exposure to negative workplace behaviours, and the COVID-19 pandemic impacted a range of research activities and outcomes, disproportionately for women and those with caring responsibilities. The findings of this research and solutions offered guide the improvement of workplace culture locally. Priorities focus on providing a stable and safe workplace where appropriate behaviours are modelled by senior colleagues. This comes at a turbulent time for academia and represents an opportunity to reshape the academic workforce experience for the better.