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Aussie workers say enough: Burnout blamed for the ‘Great Resignation’

The great resignation underway in Australia is primarily due to a heightened sense of mortality and burnout due to extra work particularly among frontline “essential” workers, according to the National Australia Bank.

Feb 18, 2022, updated Feb 18, 2022
Job satisfaction and burnout have been blamed for the wave of resignations

Job satisfaction and burnout have been blamed for the wave of resignations

A strong rebound in the labour market is also giving people confidence they will find another job.

The bank’s research showed that after decades of low employee turnover one in five Australians have changed jobs in the past year and almost a quarter were considering leaving their current place of employment.

More than a third blamed Covid for their planned shift, but they also said a lack of personal fulfilment, purpose or meaning, career limitations, mental health concerns and poor pay were factors.

NAB executive for business banking Julie Rynski said many Australians were looking for a fresh start. Around 30 per cent planned to change the industry they worked in.

“Clearly the pandemic has shifted the expectations of Australian workers and this research suggests employers now need to work harder to retain talent,’’ Rynski said.

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“The good news though is that there are absolutely things small businesses can do to keep good people – especially since pay isn’t necessarily on the top of the list for employees.

“We’re seeing so many businesses get creative about how they provide a sense of purpose at work and provide clear career pathways to ensure long term team engagement.”

NAB’s research shows job turnover was greatest for general unskilled workers, with almost four in 10 (37 per cent) indicating they had changed jobs in the past year, followed by labourers (29 per cent) and other IT and technology workers (28 per cent). 

On average, around three in 10 workers indicated they were being pushed away from their current jobs by a lack of personal fulfilment and purpose or meaning, lack of career growth, the impact of their current job on their mental health and poor pay and benefits. NAB’s research into resignations comes after unusually low levels of employee turnover in Australia. 

The latest data for the year to February 2021, showed Australia experienced the lowest employee turnover since the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) started tracking labour mobility in 1972. The ABS data suggested 7.5 per cent of employed people aged 15 and over (around 1.1 million) changed jobs – down from a peak of 19.5 per cent in 1988-89.

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