Extinguish the ‘Burnout’ With Annual Leave

Posted October 4, 2019, by Jenny

Are you stressed out, constantly feeling under the pump or experiencing extreme levels of pressure at work? It could be that you are burnt out – and no, you’re not alone.  

The Australian Payroll Association – conducted a study of more than 600 payroll managers recently, and found that more than 35 per cent of Australian businesses reported an increase in sick leave across their workforce. This is likely due to the spike in burnout that has been observed in the Australian workforce. 

Burnout was officially recognised by the World Health Organisation this year as an occupational phenomenon in the workplace. It is described as a result of chronic workplace stress that hasn’t been successfully managed.

With burnout becoming more prevalent, it’s becoming evident how important it is for employees to use their annual leave – and sick leave when needed – throughout the year to recuperate and step away from their desks, rather than waiting around for the forced workplace closure periods and public holidays. If you work in a smaller organisation, you may be less willing to take a sick day, as it may be more difficult to shift your workload to a colleague. However, it’s important that you’re comfortable in using your entitlements and understand the company’s systems that are in place, which allow you to take sick leave when you’ve become ill or injured. 

This correlation could be behind the reason why bigger companies are generally seeing more sick leave being taken, possibly due to the greater number of resources available to distribute workload when you’re a person down. While sick leave is increasing, we also found that Aussies are taking less annual leave. This makes us wonder whether there is a connection there. 

Our research also found more than two-thirds (71 per cent) of payroll managers have reported that there are employees in their organisation who haven’t taken annual leave for more than 18 months – and this not including forced office closure. This is more evident in larger organisations: in 32 per cent of medium-sized and large companies, up to 5 per cent of employees had not taken annual leave in the last 18 months.

 There is a difference between working hard and being overworked, which can lead to burnout, and taking annual or sick leave when necessary can often be the cure. Whether Aussies are just passionate about their job or they feel like they can’t get away from it, it is up to the organisation to encourage employees to take annual leave and potentially put systems in place to do this. Concerningly, our research shows 72 per cent of payroll managers say their organisation had no system for forced annual leave. 

Despite the demands you may feel from your job, taking the necessary breaks and pulling yourself away from your desk is important in maintaining a healthy work-life balance. Workplace burnout – while most commonly related to the workplace – can also be exacerbated by reasons unrelated to the work, such as personal or financial issues. Employers should keep an eye out on their team, and pick up any changes in their behaviours and work, as this may be an indication that they need are feeling stressed or exhausted. A little nudge by you to take their entitlements is encouraged to maintain a positive work environment and ensure your employees prioritise their health and wellbeing.  

This article was produced for Career FAQs by Tracy Angwin. Tracy is the CEO and founder of the Australian Payroll Association, Australia’s leading network for payroll professionals that offers payroll advisory, training, qualifications and consulting. 


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