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Burnout is not a bad word: How companies can combat growing burnout rates

By Jody Fazldeen | |6 minute read
Burnout Is Not A Bad Word How Companies Can Combat Growing Burnout Rates

Burnout has become a taboo word across the HR world in recent years.

The data has made it abundantly clear that burnout is a pervasive issue across contemporary business, with conservative estimates placing around three-fifths (58 per cent) of Australian workers as having struggled with the condition. In fact, health and wellness centre The Banyans has noted a mammoth 684 per cent increase in inquiries about burnout in 2023.

Despite this, there appears to be a degree of hesitation to address the problem, as organisations grapple with their desire to halt the current wave of “quiet quitters” and the challenges of tackling the problem at its root.


First coined in 1974, the term “burnout” describes “exhaustion by making excessive demands on energy, strength or resources”. Symptoms of burnout may include:

  • Feelings of exhaustion or energy depletion.
  • A sense of ineffectiveness and a lack of accomplishment.
  • Increased mental distance from one’s job or feelings of cynicism towards one’s job.

Chronic burnout has been linked to mental health problems, including anxiety and depression, as well as poor physical health, such as hypertension, heart disease, obesity and metabolic syndrome.

From a business perspective, burnout is a vicious cycle that sees organisations struggle with retention, absenteeism, recruitment, and productivity, as workers continue to hop between jobs when they hit breaking point. With burnout costing the Australian economy $14 billion each year, it is crucial that businesses and individuals make steps to alleviate the prevalence of burnout in the workplace.

But how do we move to do this when organisations are reluctant to start the conversation?

Culture matters

Company culture is crucial to supporting staff wellbeing. By immersing staff in an environment where they are afforded proper breaks, mental health support and physical support, we are able to construct a company culture that alleviates symptoms of burnout, increases retention and raises job satisfaction.

Of course, even suggesting a shift in company culture might be enough to send shivers down any board’s spine. However, this shift doesn’t need to be a complete overhaul of the foundation of the company.

Small steps are key to making a positive change. We have seen flexible work prove invaluable in supporting staff to manage their wellbeing. Whether it’s work-from-home days, gym breaks during the day, or choosing the hours that work best for you, we are always evolving how we empower our team to prioritise wellness.

Leading by example

An organisation is only as strong as its leaders. The effect leaders can have on their workplace is profound, and the trickle-down effect of healthy leaders can make waves in improving staff wellbeing.

It is important that we take the time to regularly undertake professional development and invest in wellbeing programs, which allow us a “quarterly reset” to assess where we are and where we can approve.

Setting boundaries

Everyone has been there – unwinding at home after a long day, taking in the comfort of home, when suddenly we hear the dreaded iPhone marimba and are thrust back into work in an instant.

The expectation of being always on has created a dangerous lack of separation between work and home, wherein workers feel a constant sense of tension and anticipation to jump into work at any point. It turns lounge rooms into offices and beds into impromptu desks and prevents us from finding a place completely separate to work, unpack, decompress and recuperate.

It is crucial that workers are able to disconnect from work and maintain a healthy work/life balance.

While we continue to see organisations shift back towards working from the office, the blurred lines from the age of remote and digital work have remained, and understanding, as a worker, where your boundaries are and, as an organisation, how you can support workers in this way, is becoming more important than ever.

Breaking the taboo

While studies and data continue to demonstrate the pervasive problem of burnout, organisations continue to struggle to improve and shape a better environment – not just for their workers but also for themselves.

With research indicating that work environments and organisations have a profound impact on workers’ health and wellbeing, it is crucial that we address the problem of burnout head-on and enact strategies to support workers to proactively set our teams up for success.

By actively creating an environment that supports staff mental health, we are able to not only transform our lives by implementing strategies personally but also increase organisational success and staff retention and facilitate a positive shift in the wider conversation surrounding burnout.

Jody Fazldeen is the director at Talentpath.



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.