HR Leader logo
Stay connected.   Subscribe  to our newsletter

82% of Aussies feel pressure to work outside hours

By Jack Campbell | |5 minute read

The rise in technology means we are reachable at all times. Furthermore, the pandemic has resulted in a work-from-home boom, which blurs the lines between what is work and what isn’t.

Hays discussed the need for a “right to disconnect” in a LinkedIn poll, which found that 82 per cent of Australians feel pressured to work outside of normal working hours.

Of these respondents, 46 per cent said they feel pressured regularly, while just 16 per cent said they never experience this.


Matthew Dickason, Asia Pacific chief executive at Hays, commented on the findings: “The lines between work and personal time have blurred, with most professionals feeling some level of pressure to connect outside normal working hours.”

“To protect employee health and wellbeing, improve productivity and reduce the risk of burnout, employers need to reprioritise work/life balance. In today’s 24/7, hybrid and remote world, they must develop strategies to help their employees disconnect.”

Mr Dickason continued: “The ‘right to disconnect’ refers to the ability of employees to switch off from work-related tasks and devices outside their normal working hours. It’s gaining renewed attention as a strategy to help minimise the risk of work following employees home or into their evening.”

The government is aware of these issues, as the Fair Work Amendment (Right to Disconnect) Bill 2023 was introduced to Parliament in March. This amendment to the Fair Work Act 2009 would prevent employers from contacting workers outside of work hours. It would also give employees the right to not engage with any work-related communications outside of working hours.

Employers can help reduce burnout through the implementation of the right-to-disconnect policies, said Mr Dickason.

“Establish clear policies and guidelines around after-hours work, including limiting after-hours emails and phone calls. Foster a culture where employees feel comfortable setting boundaries and prioritising personal time. Lead by example and model healthy work boundaries,” he explained.

“Encourage employees to prioritise their personal time and unplug from work when they are off the clock. This includes taking their full annual leave entitlements and disconnecting from work entirely during vacations and public holidays. If needed, provide training to educate employees on the importance of work/life balance and how to manage their workload effectively.”

For individuals who may be dealing with pressure from their bosses to be available after work hours, setting boundaries can be a way to reduce stress.

“Set clear boundaries with your colleagues and manager. Communicate your working hours and let people know when you’re available and when you’re not,” Mr Dickason said.

“If you’re feeling overwhelmed with your workload, talk to a trusted colleague or your manager. Ask for support or help to prioritise tasks. Turn off work-related notifications at night and take time to rest, recharge, pursue interests and spend time with family and friends. Use your full annual leave to completely unplug from work so you can relax and return refreshed.”

Hays highlighted how some organisations have already implemented the right to disconnect, such as Victoria Police and Queensland public school teachers. France became the first to implement this policy on a country-wide level, with Spain, Italy and Belgium following suit.

Jack Campbell

Jack Campbell

Jack is the editor at HR Leader.