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‘Employment paralysis’: Outside stress causing interior troubles

By Jack Campbell | |5 minute read

The stress of the modern workplace has spawned “employment paralysis”, and according to experts, businesses are taking advantage of this idea to help mitigate issues.

Employment paralysis refers to the freezing of hiring. According to NB Employment Law director Jonathan Mamaril, the rising pressures that employers are facing are the cause of this trend.

“The current business environment means there are too many obligations. For many, it’s way too hard and way too costly. There is also uncertainty surrounding the ramifications of the Australian government’s Same Job, Same Pay and closing the loophole policy,” said Mr Mamaril.


“More than ever, employees are venting about life’s frustrations in the workplace, causing tensions to escalate and productively to fall. Personal issues and family challenges are manifesting themselves in the office like never before.”

Outside factors are reportedly a key contributor to these freezes. Mr Mamaril believes that stress on employees is resulting in poor work behaviour that is affecting businesses.

“Rising cost-of-living pressures, interest rate rises and spiralling education costs are all leading to reactionary behaviour. Problematic employees are also threatening their managers with claims of workplace bullying if they receive reasonable but unwanted feedback,” he explained.

“It’s unsurprising businesses are pausing recruitment so they don’t have to deal with an escalating list of employee-specific issues … There has also been an increase in businesses looking to do more with less and championing leaner business models in a bid to boost profits.”

While employment paralysis may seem like a worthwhile way to deal with these issues, addressing the deeper-rooted concerns should be the goal of the employer.

Organisations that freeze hiring run the risk of placing extra pressure on their existing workforce. This can cause increased attrition as employees leave for less stressful work environments.

Employers who are able to help employees through stressful periods through education and support can ensure that employees stay happy, engaged, and productive. This, in turn, can boost retention and attraction and remove the need for trends like employment paralysis.

Another similar trend being witnessed is “work paralysis”. Similar to employment paralysis, this trend is affecting individuals and is a detriment to productivity.

Overwhelmed and stressed employees are freezing at work, as these pressures cause burnout and disengagement. HR Morning provided some tips that employers can use to revitalise struggling employees and get their workforce working to their best ability:

  • Creating mentorship opportunities to help workers who struggle with issues like prioritisation and time management learn from their peers.
  • Working with managers to create and communicate solid, reliable expectations for their team so workers know what’s expected of them.
  • Encouraging a positive workplace culture that values feedback and open communication so employees who are struggling can reach out before work paralysis becomes a larger issue.



Employees experience burnout when their physical or emotional reserves are depleted. Usually, persistent tension or dissatisfaction causes this to happen. The workplace atmosphere might occasionally be the reason. Workplace stress, a lack of resources and support, and aggressive deadlines can all cause burnout.

Jack Campbell

Jack Campbell

Jack is the editor at HR Leader.