Gartner detects imminent workplace mental health epidemic for Australia.

Ready to quit.

In the pursuit of growth and productivity, Australian workplaces have exhausted staff morale and decimated effort levels, with employees now on the brink of burnout and ready to quit, according to Gartner.

Data from Gartner’s Q1 2019 Global Talent Monitor reveals that discretionary effort levels – the willingness to go above and beyond at work – have dropped to the lowest point since Q1 2014, suggesting that without change, the workforce simply cannot give any more. In Australia, 15.7 per cent of employees reported high discretionary effort levels in Q1 2019, only slightly above the global average of 15 per cent, and down from a high of 23 per cent in Q2 2017.

“Organisations have stripped the fat in every area of operations as they look to drive efficiencies and move their business into the future,” said Aaron McEwan, HR advisory leader at Gartner. “Growth targets are high, and for years, organisations have expected their workers to do more with less and achieve continuous results against a backdrop of constant change and increasing complexity.

“Workers are acutely aware of what their employers want from them; they’re feeling pressure to work longer hours, often without pay, and take work home in order to meet deadlines. With the added stress of “always on” technology and flat wage growth, it’s not surprising that employees are feeling overworked, disrespected, stressed and anxious,” added Mr McEwan.

Gartner’s data reveals that the No. 1 reason employees cite for leaving their job is respect, or lack of it. Respect rose seven places in Q1 2019 to become the leading driver of attrition among Australian workers. This was followed by manager quality, up two places.

“To see these indicators of dissatisfaction and disengagement so early in the year is alarming and should be a wake-up call to employers. There’s a long year ahead and growth targets are not going away. We need a workforce that is energised, committed and focused on delivering results,” warned Mr McEwan.

In the three months to March 2019, Australian employees’ intent to stay fell a significant 8 per cent, while active job seeking increased by 5.6 per cent.

According to Mr McEwan, when workers are fed up and tired, their first instinct is flight over fight. “Even though the external job market is not particularly favorable for candidates today, leaving becomes a more attractive prospect than remaining in a job where you feel undervalued and mentally exhausted.”

“We’re heading for a workplace mental health epidemic and if organisations don’t prepare for it, employee wellbeing and productivity will both be at serious risk,” said Mr McEwan.

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