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Insomnia, burnout, and loneliness at record numbers for Aussie workers

By Kace O'Neill | |5 minute read
Insomnia Burnout And Loneliness At Record Numbers For Aussie Workers

Aussie workers are knackered right across the board as a number of work-related issues are affecting everyone at record highs.

New data from Sonder has highlighted that almost half (49 per cent) of Australian and New Zealand employees are commonly experiencing feelings of burnout and exhaustion, as well as other crippling work-related issues. Despite this high consensus, only 35 per cent of employees took some form of time off for their own mental health in the past year, with 8 per cent taking none at all.

The survey of 2,007 Australian and New Zealander employees, commissioned by Sonder, found that 52 per cent reported their mental wellbeing as being average to very poor.


With mental health and limiting psychosocial hazards being so important throughout workplaces in Australia, the fact that employees are still reluctant to seek out time off or help with their mental health is damning.

Although both topics are often thrust together, burnout is not stress. It’s a syndrome that can result from chronic and unsuccessfully managed stress, among other factors. The World Health Organisation (WHO) describes burnout as a workplace phenomenon “resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed”.

Burnout is well known to decrease a worker’s productivity and professional efficiency when partaking in their specific job role, but it also increases the mental distance from one’s job. When burnout is happening, employees can be repulsed by their jobs, sparking mental distancing and the lack of care for it.

Sonder’s chief people officer, Raechel Gavin, stated that external issues outside of the job realm could be impacting the mental health and stress levels of workers, as 42 per cent of those surveyed reported “often or always” experiencing “worries about being able to meet normal living expenses”.

“While burnout is often linked to knowledge-based roles with their long office hours and demanding deadlines, the risk of burnout is pervasive across all industries. In skills-based roles that deal directly with customers or patients, there can still be a high risk of burnout,” Gavin said.

Insomnia is another issue that the survey covers. According to Health Direct, insomnia is a sleep disorder in which people are unable to fall asleep, stay asleep, or wake up too early. Insomnia can affect your daytime functioning, including your energy levels, memory, mood, or concentration.

“The survey data and our own Sonder customer feedback is also telling us workers are impacted from insomnia and loneliness. Over one-third of those surveyed reported having trouble sleeping, 28 per cent of those surveyed reported feelings of isolation or loneliness,” Gavin said.

It’s up to organisations to realise the importance of maintaining healthy processes for their employees. Helping workers manage their stress levels both in and out of their workplace will directly impact their wellbeing, engagement and productivity, which ultimately impacts how the business performs. If those things are managed, business outcomes should flourish, but if they aren’t, expect the opposite.



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.


An employee is a person who has signed a contract with a company to provide services in exchange for pay or benefits. Employees vary from other employees like contractors in that their employer has the legal authority to set their working conditions, hours, and working practises.

Kace O'Neill

Kace O'Neill

Kace O'Neill is a Graduate Journalist for HR Leader. Kace studied Media Communications and Maori studies at the University of Otago, he has a passion for sports and storytelling.