Four in five Australians experienced burnout in 2020

Four in five Australians faced burnout in 2020


A worldwide survey commissioned by California-based work management app Asana has found that Australians had one of the highest rates of burnout of any country in 2020. 

The study, which analysed white-collar workers and how they coped with working from home last year found that almost four in five Australians suffered burnout — 77 percent, in fact — 6 percent above the global average.

Among the more than two thousand Australians and New Zealanders who were surveyed, almost half said they worked nearly twice as many late hours as the previous year. The number of hours spent working overtime also increased for many people — from 236 hours up to 436 hours in a single year. 

Adam Chicktong, the general manager of Asana’s Asia Pacific network, said that high levels of burnout were caused by three main factors; increased overtime, vagueness around workplace tasks and how they are allocated, and increased administrative duties, including “unnecessary” workplace meetings.

“In 2020, work about work has increased, creating chaos, confusion and rising levels of burnout [and] this misalignment has made it difficult for everyone to do their best work,” he said.

“Organisations [have] an opportunity to make meaningful changes to how we work, requiring fresh thinking and a framework for ongoing adaptation – beginning with employee wellbeing.”

Similar findings were revealed in our own careers report, The Great COVID Career Reset, which was published in late 2020 supported by Monarch Institute.

From a survey of nearly 800 women, roughly 35 percent believed the year to be a “lost year” when it came to their career. 

77 percent said the pandemic period saw them rethinking what they had previously expected or wanted from their career, and more than 4 in 5 women were rethinking what was important to them in their career. 

“A large cohort of respondents in this survey were made redundant at a time when opportunities for travel, business and promotion became suddenly limited,” the report explained. “This has forced a concerning number of people to live off of their savings. This pandemic has pushed many professional women to a crossroads.” 

Almost half of female respondents pursued some form of up-skilling (including online courses, or a degree) during 2020 and over 50 percent said they had thought about upskilling as a result of the pandemic.

The Centre for Future Work released a similar study, showing that roughly one in five respondents felt a greater weight of expectation by their bosses to be more available.

Jim Stanford, the director of Centre for Future Work, told The New Daily that existing remote work systems were “not very conducive” to efficient workplace output.

“[These include] the solitary nature of the work, the undercapitalised nature of home workspaces, and the overlap between working from home and various forms of independent contractor-style work arrangements,” Stanford said.

“Clear standards must be established regarding continual observance of normal working hours, payment for overtime, and ability of home workers to “turn off. The risk is a creeping expectation by employers of constant availability, including out of regular hours, on weekends, and even on holidays.”

In better news, more than half of respondents from Australia and New Zealand in the Asana report said they were optimistic about 2021. The results from these various studies should encourage employers to come up with new ways to protect their staff from work-related stress.

“Employers and policy makers reset how they value women’s careers, Women’s Agenda outlined in the The Great COVID Career Reset report.

“We must consider how women are rethinking their careers: They are placing more value on flexible work and working from home. They are looking for opportunities to up-skill and to take on leadership responsibilities.”

“It’s time for those with the power to harness these opportunities to do so. To act courageously, compassionately and decisively in order to usher in a new era of work and leadership that can address the challenges we face now and into the future. Policy makers and leaders across government and business must prioritise the career needs of women.”


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