The big Aussie burnout

Burnout seems to be affecting a lot of people right now.

Europe and the UK view burnout as an occupational phenomenon as described in the World Health Organisation’s Classification of Diseases. However, surprisingly, it is not officially recognised in Australia as either a medical or mental health condition.

WHO describes burnout as a syndrome resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.

Symptoms that indicate burnout may include emotional exhaustion, responsibility overload, lethargy, reduced efficiency and social withdrawal. Those suffering from burnout may become more irritable, less productive, and have difficulty concentrating. 

Role of the pandemic

The University of Melbourne recently published a study titled “2023 STATE OF THE FUTURE OF WORK”. The study employed a sample of 1,400 employed Australians during 2022, to see how they were faring two years after the start of the pandemic.

The results were as predictable as they were astonishing. 

Australian workers are in far poorer physical and mental health than they were at the commencement of the pandemic – across all ages and stages. What the study defined as ‘Prime-aged workers’ – those between 25 and 55 – have reported the most burnout.

Some 50% of prime-aged workers in the survey felt exhausted at work. Around 40% said they felt less motivated about their work than prior to the pandemic. 33% found it more difficult to concentrate at work because of their responsibilities outside of work.

The research responders also thought that there were fewer opportunities for advancement in their jobs, and were more likely to feel like they didn’t have enough time at work to do everything they needed to achieve.

Consequently, around 33% of this prime-aged workforce is thinking about quitting. While they may be showing up to their jobs but they are definitely burnt out.

At the pharmacy as well, we see people of this age group presenting with sleep disorders, stress, anxiety, depression and more. As pharmacists, we can give advice on dietary supplements, medication, and lifestyle changes. But often these solutions are ways to manage the problem, and not resolve the core causes of symptoms. 

Bouncing back

The pandemic and lockdowns took a significant toll on the mental health of the Australian workforce. Although we’ve been desperately waiting for life to return to “normal”, pandemic-related disruptions remain.

Around 40% of all flexible workers reported feeling more productive since the start of the pandemic, compared to around 30% of non-flexible workers. And 75% of workers under the age of 54 reported that a lack of flexible work options in their workplace would motivate them to leave or look for another job.

This study suggests that pre-pandemic ways of working were not suitable for segments of the workforce. This may mean creating new ways of working, including flexible work, to ensure the Australian workforce has the energy for tomorrow.

Opinions or facts expressed within the content have been sourced from various news sources. While every effort has been taken to source them accurately, the pharmacy, its owners, staff or other affiliates do not take any responsibility for errors in these sources. Patients should not rely on the facts or opinions in the content to manage their own health, and should seek the advice of an appropriate medical professional. Further, the opinions or facts in the content do not reflect the opinions and beliefs of the pharmacy, its owners, staff or other affiliates. 

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