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Wellbeing

81% of the Australian workforce battles stress and burnout in silence

By Christine Day | |7 minute read
81 Of The Australian Workforce Battles Stress And Burnout In Silence

Despite the ongoing discussions about mental health and wellbeing, the headline speaks volumes: 81 per cent of the Australian workforce is struggling with stress and burnout. What’s even more alarming is that this percentage surpasses the global figure of 73 per cent grappling in silence with burnout.

However, beneath this statistic lies a more complex narrative. The latest study from GoodHabitz underscores an unsettling gap in communication between employees and management regarding mental health. The root cause extends beyond discomfort; it lies in the deficiency of vital skills that are essential for empathetic communication and problem solving.

Stress and burnout, the modern adversaries of mental wellbeing, cast their shadow on employees worldwide. To gain a comprehensive understanding of the evolving landscape of mental health, GoodHabitz, together with research agency Markteffect, conducted a study among 24,235 employees across the globe, including 12 European countries, three Latin American countries, and Australia.

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Their discoveries provide key insights that unlock a better understanding of the various aspects that contribute to employees’ wellbeing. Moreover, these insights offer us a practical compass, guiding us toward effective strategies that can be readily implemented.

The findings, published in the University of Melbourne’s (UoM) 2023 State of Future of Work Report, confirm the GoodHabitz study. The UoM report goes on to indicate that Australian workers have been in poorer physical and mental health since the pandemic began, with prime-aged workers (between 25 and 55 years old) significantly impacted, one-third of whom had considered quitting.

Report co-author and sociologist Dr Brendan Churchill said: “With high rates of fatigue and exhaustion among younger and middle-aged workers, it’s no surprise that over a third of prime-aged workers in Australia are considering quitting their jobs.”

Half of global employees keep stress and burnout hidden from employers

Over the past year, talents across the globe have struggled with stress and burnout, underscoring the urgent need for a comprehensive approach to mental wellbeing. Among these individuals, approximately half chose to confront their difficulties in isolation without seeking support from their supervisors (56 per cent).

This unspoken crisis emphasises the need to foster environments where open conversations around mental health are not only welcomed, but actively encouraged. However, this isn’t solely about talk; it’s about arming people with the skills and resources they require to have understanding and compassionate discussions.

Promoting open dialogues and empathy

Digging deeper, it becomes clear that the root cause extends beyond the discomfort of having a conversation with a supervisor; it also indicates a lack of crucial skills needed for effective communication, empathy and issue resolution.

Across all surveyed countries, stress management emerges as the foremost skill to positively impact wellbeing (35 per cent). However, the list doesn’t conclude there. Communication skills, teamwork, coaching, and management, as well as leadership skills, are nearly equally important. This underscores the pressing need for comprehensive training for both managers and teams within organisations.

Interestingly, most employees (63 per cent) prefer their managers to do regular check-ins on their wellbeing. That calls for more leadership training regarding this topic. According to Sandrien Boogaard, HR director at GoodHabitz, addressing this issue requires not only mental health support but also practical tools and skills. Managers are urged to enhance their leadership with training in regular wellbeing check-ins.

Gijs Coppens, OpenUp and iPractice founder and healthcare psychologist, shares some practical guidelines on fostering a culture of mental wellbeing and support in the workplace: “Champion a culture of mental wellbeing by creating a safe and supportive environment in which being vulnerable and honest is accepted and celebrated. As a leader, set the right example by sharing your own experiences with your own wellbeing and how you overcame challenges. And encourage meaningful conversations – make time in meetings to listen to how your people are really feeling. Ask the right questions, give them the space they need to talk.”

The role of personal growth in work happiness

The findings bring to light a crucial yet often underestimated element in enhancing employee wellbeing and productivity. According to research data, financial rewards continue to play a vital role in job satisfaction. At the same time, the importance of personal development is steadily growing. There is no doubt that the source of work happiness is rooted in the deep fulfilment that accompanies personal growth. Globally, almost four out of five employees see a correlation between being happy at work and how it affects their general wellbeing (78 per cent). This shows how much work and private life are interrelated.

“The report resonates with a fundamental truth: nurturing personal development is the elixir that fosters a vibrant work culture and lights up the happiness meter. These numbers reflect what I witness in my function as an HR professional: I believe that progressive companies must recognise the intrinsic link between the overall wellbeing of their employees and their work happiness. It is essential for managers to undergo training to effectively address and support this connection, fostering a positive and thriving work environment,” said Sandrien Boogaard, HR director at GoodHabitz.

Christine Day is the field marketing manager at GoodHabitz.

RELATED TERMS

Burnout

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.

Workforce

The term "workforce" or "labour force" refers to the group of people who are either employed or unemployed.

Jack Campbell

Jack Campbell

Jack is the editor at HR Leader.