Workplace exhaustion and burnout are becoming increasingly common in Australia, driven by long hours, high pressure, and the expectation to be always available. This situation has evolved to the point where feeling overwhelmed and depleted is seen as a standard part of many job environments. 

A significant trend in the past year, referred to as The Great Resignation, has now transitioned into a widespread occurrence of burnout among workers. 

Research indicates that approximately 11% of Australian employees suffer from high levels of burnout, highlighting the need for a re-evaluation of work-life balance, especially in the wake of the pandemic. Many have shifted to remote work, finding a silver lining in less commuting and more personal time despite restrictions on travel and usual activities. 

Occupational Burnout: A Genuine Concern 

Occupational burnout affects various professions and leads to physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion. Employers and employees must recognise burnout signs and adopt stress management strategies to prevent its onset. The World Health Organisation defines burnout as a condition arising from unmanaged chronic work stress, characterised by energy depletion, increased mental distance from one’s job, and reduced professional efficacy. 

The International Classification of Diseases recognises burnout and emphasises its prevalence in workplaces. It often results in a loss of interest in work, motivation, and a feeling of overwhelm, leading to disengagement. 

The Economic Impact of Burnout 

The economic cost of burnout to businesses in Australia is substantial. Work-related stress leads to a significant percentage of serious mental health issues in the workplace. Studies show that the annual cost of burnout exceeds AUD 14 billion, emphasising the need for strategic measures to address this issue. 

Burnout rates in Australia and New Zealand are notably high, with the majority of employees experiencing it at least once in the past year. Whilst the rise of digital advancements has facilitated better connectivity in hybrid work settings, it has resulted in blurred lines between work and home life. 

A correlation between employee engagement and organisational performance has been noted, with poor employee well-being leading to considerable financial losses due to lost productivity, turnover, absenteeism, and diminished customer service quality. 

Engagement and Retention 

The cost of hiring has significantly increased, making employee retention a more economically viable option. Companies can enhance retention by offering competitive salaries, career development opportunities, and a supportive work environment. 

Exhaustion in Payroll Positions 

A survey revealed that many payroll professionals feel overworked and consider leaving their jobs within a year. The main contributors to their burnout include a lack of support, unrealistic deadlines, and insufficient resources. 

Labour shortages exacerbate burnout by increasing workloads for existing staff. Investing in team support and addressing payroll operation inefficiencies are effective strategies for managing this challenge. 

Signs of Burnout in Payroll Jobs 

  • Long Hours: Peak periods demand extended work hours, leading to exhaustion. 
  • Tight Deadlines: Stress arises from the pressure to meet deadlines accurately. 
  • Repetitive Tasks: Routine tasks can lead to mental fatigue and decreased motivation. 
  • Lack of Recognition: Feeling undervalued contributes to demotivation and burnout. 
  • Inadequate Resources: Efficiency needs proper support, increasing stress. 

Technology and Process Efficiency 

Inefficient processes and outdated technology significantly contribute to payroll staff burnout. Modern, efficient payroll systems can mitigate these issues by reducing manual tasks and improving accuracy and compliance. 

Reducing Burnout: Strategies for Employers 

Employers can implement several strategies to combat burnout: 

  1. Flexible Working Arrangements: Allowing flexible schedules can help staff manage workloads and reduce stress. 
  1. Professional Development: Training opportunities can increase job satisfaction and efficiency. 
  1. Modern Payroll Solutions: Advanced systems streamline operations and improve compliance. 
  1. Encourage Breaks: Regular breaks can help staff recharge and maintain focus. 
  1. Supportive Work Environment: A positive culture where employees feel valued can enhance morale and reduce burnout risks. 

By addressing the factors contributing to burnout and implementing supportive measures, employers can protect their employees’ mental health, ensuring a more productive and engaged workforce. This benefits the individual workers and contributes to the organisation’s overall success and sustainability. 


Businesses can email contact@payrollexperts.com.au or call 1300 287 213 for free first-step advice on how to ensure your Payroll processes can safeguard your Payroll compliance. Follow us on LinkedIn or sign up here to receive our articles direct to your email inbox.