Feeling burnt out? 8 in 10 Australian bosses say they’ll cover staff to take leave

New research by specialised recruiter Robert Half research shows the majority (60%) of Australian business leaders are concerned that employees are more likely to experience burnout this year.

  • 60% of Australian business leaders are concerned that employees are more likely to experience burnout this year.
  • 85% are willing to hire a contractor to cover a full-time employee when they go on leave.
  • Other work-life balance strategies include offering remote work or telecommuting (71%), flexitime (67%), permanent part-time roles (55%), and compressed work weeks (51%).

As the economy rebounds, businesses are ramping up their activity which is creating mounting workloads for many. However, working relentlessly is neither healthy nor sustainable, and can result in burnout.

New research by specialised recruiter Robert Half research shows the majority (60%) of Australian business leaders are concerned that employees are more likely to experience burnout this year. This is more than double (28%) those who believe employees are just as likely to experience burnout this year compared to the previous year. Only 12% of respondents state employees are less likely to experience burnout over the coming year than previous year.

Given the challenging and disruptive personal, professional, and economic issues the onset of the pandemic had in 2020, these results point to the negative impact sustained long-term pressure is having on employees which is resulting in a higher incidence of burnout.

Employers encouraging staff to take holiday

A healthy work-life balance is cited by many as one of the most valuable aspects of an organisational culture among employees who are consistently happy in their jobs, including flexible working arrangements and vacation time. In positive news for employees, research reveals 85% of Australian business leaders are willing to hire a contractor to cover a full-time employee when they go on leave.

From a managerial perspective, encouraging staff to take annual leave is an effective strategy to reduce the risk of employee burnout. At the same time, introducing temporary support from contractors upholds productivity within the team without overburdening existing teammates with the workload of the employee on leave.

Of the 85% of surveyed business leaders willing to hire a contractor to cover a full-time employee when they go on leave, nearly half of those respondents (42%) had not previously considered this option but were open to doing so in 2021 and 43% were already doing so. This points to the employer’s recognition of their employees’ extraordinary contributions in the past year as well as the resulting negative impact on many staff members’ work-life balance.

Aside from encouraging staff to take their annual leave, many employers are actively taking increased action to help prevent employee burnout and promote a healthy work-life balance. Other strategies companies are introducing to support an improved work-life balance among staff include offering remote work or telecommuting (71%), flexitime (67%), permanent part-time roles (55%), and compressed work weeks (51%).

Preventing employee burnout is an organisational issue which businesses need to prioritise. After enduring more than a year of long hours and little time off, many workers are feeling burned out and need a break to relax and refresh. Running on empty can have a negative effect on employees' mental health and well-being, and managers should make it a priority to encourage their teams to enjoy a well-deserved vacation,” says Nicole Gorton, Director Australia in announcing Robert Half’s latest survey results.

"Annual leave is an important part of maintaining work-life balance which can benefit the workplace overall by improving morale, productivity, retention, and reducing unplanned absences. Businesses should focus on developing an organisational culture that supports leave, or risk losing top talent – to a burnout or another opportunity. Hiring contract workers to cover permanent employees while on leave does not only allow companies to maintain productivity, it also avoids placing additional workload on the remaining colleagues or leaving a mounting workload for employees on their return,” concludes Gorton.