The Workplace Realignment: Reset needed as cost of living, fatigue and burnout, put pressure on workplace mental health

26 September 2023
  • New research from Allianz Australia reveals new issues, including cost of living pressures,1 coupled with ongoing problems like and fatigue and burnout,2 are having a significant impact on job satisfaction. 
  • This comes as new Workers' Compensation data also shows a 46 per cent increase in mental health (psychological) claims since pre-pandemic times.3 
  • Allianz is calling on organisations to embark on a Workplace Realignment, to better understand employee expectations and implement tailored mental health solutions to support these needs. 
  • With 1.4 million Aussies saying they are very likely to quit in the next 6 – 12 months,organisations must address workplace mental health concerns.  

While the direct disruption of the pandemic on workplace mental health has eased, Australian workplaces are facing new pressures, as new research reveals cost of living is having a direct impact on employee sentiment towards work. More than a third (35 per cent) of surveyed Australian employees say cost of living pressures are negatively impacting their job satisfaction, along with fatigue and burnout (33 per cent), with almost a quarter of all surveyed employees (24 per cent) stating they feel they are underpaid at work.

Adding to the volatile economic environment are pervasive issues like increased pressure on workload, with new research by leading Workers' Compensation insurer, Allianz Australia, revealing over a quarter of surveyed Australian employees (28 per cent) claim that they have felt exhausted when it comes to work over the past 12 months, with Gen Z (40 per cent), the highest among all generations surveyed. 

With four distinct generations now working alongside each other, each is feeling the brunt of the ongoing pressures differently. Gen X (41 per cent) and Gen Z (40 per cent) are more likely than Millennials (29 per cent) to state that cost of living pressures were negatively impacting their job satisfaction at work.

Gen Z (27 per cent) and Gen X (32 per cent) were least likely to state they were satisfied with work. They were also more likely than Millennials (30 per cent) to be feeling the pressure of fatigue and burnout, Gen X (45 per cent) and Gen Z (48 per cent) respectively. Millennial employees were most likely to state that the speed of technology changes, such as the adoption of AI in the workplace, is making them feel out of date and is negatively impacting their job satisfaction (17 per cent).

The friction caused by the economic environment, ongoing internal workplace pressures and a diverse, multigenerational workforce means that the delivery of effective workplace mental health support is becoming more complex for managers. New claims data from Allianz Australia saw a 39 per cent increase in the average number of days taken off work due to mental health in the last four years, with the cost of claims rising 36 per cent in the same period.5 Work pressure continues to be a key driver for primary psychological claims. 

This comes as the majority of surveyed employees (63 per cent) state that they have felt negatively about their work over the past 12 months, and almost one in five (19 per cent) admit that they often have mental health challenges triggered by work. 

Despite this clear toll on employee wellbeing and satisfaction at work, nearly nine out of ten (89 per cent) of surveyed managers state that they are satisfied with their organisation’s ability to create mentally healthy workplaces for their employees in the last 12 months. 

This misalignment between employees and managers on workplace concerns is affecting how organisations can effectively address mental health issues in the workplace. While the majority of surveyed managers (60 per cent) say their organisation has gone above and beyond to provide support and systems to create a mentally healthy workplace, just one in three (33 per cent) employees share the same sentiment. 

In response, Allianz Australia is calling for organisations to embark on The Workplace Realignment, to better understand the expectations of employees across diverse generations and closely consider how employees' sentiment to work and expectations in a post-pandemic world marry up with the support provided by workplaces today. This includes being aware of the wider elements impacting employee sentiment and mental health at work, and effectively implementing a modern approach to workplace mental health. 

Julie Mitchell, Chief General Manager of Personal Injury, Allianz Australia said, “Ongoing disruptions have continued to fuel a disconnect between managers, employees and organisations on the most important workplace mental health issues. 

"This disconnect continues to have a serious impact on workplace satisfaction and employee retention, and in turn, is continuing a worrying trend of increasing mental health claims in the workplace.”

While issues in the workplace are becoming more complex and proving harder to solve, managers must focus on responding to the direct needs of their employees, to maintain a more mentally healthy workplace culture. Interestingly, employees have highlighted empathic and emotionally intelligent environments (41 per cent), over adequate remuneration in line with the market (39 per cent) as the leading measures they believe their organisations should commit to drive improved mental health outcomes, alongside clear processes and policies to communicate workplace concerns (36 per cent).

Dr Mark Cross, Consultant Psychiatrist said, “Displaying empathy and establishing meaningful connections with employees is the first step to develop trust and to spark The Workplace Realignment. In this environment, employees are more likely to feel heard and that their concerns are being addressed by their workplace.

“Business leaders must take a nuanced approach to modernising workplace mental health support, tailoring policies to the evolving needs of employees across all generations. This goes beyond just the control of direct workplace mental health risks, it also encompasses initiatives around employee engagement, culture, attraction and retention.”

As the demands of employees change and the marketplace evolves, workplaces must be willing to adapt and modernise their approach to mental health or risk losing staff, as the research reveals 1.4 million employees are very likely to consider leaving their current organisation in the next 6–12 months. 6

Julie Mitchell continued, “Monolithic approaches to supporting mentally healthy workplaces aren’t sustainable. Organisations must address changing employee expectations, by acknowledging their concerns and offering mental health and wellbeing programs aligned to expectations. This demands a holistic view of an employee’s workplace experience, including mental health support, engagement, culture, remuneration, career progression and retention activities.”

For more information on how you can spark a Workplace Realignment and learn how you can help create more mentally healthy workplaces, visit the Allianz Workplace Realignment website.

  • Fear or anxiety about speaking up when faced with an issue at work :
    • Invest in communication and performance management training for leaders
    • Establish a diverse and appropriately trained peer support network
    • Foster a ‘speak up culture’ through regular check-ins
    • Implement anonymous reporting mechanisms and regular feedback processes 
  • Concerns over the pace of change or new technology adoption in the workplace :
    • Investigate to understand what factors are causing the anxiety
    • Ensure employees feel relevant by developing their technological capabilities
    • Ensure clear processes and policies are in place to communicate workplace concerns
  • An unconscious bias in supporting employees at different career stages :
    • Develop a matrix that provides transparency around access to career progression and opportunities. 
    • Invest in leader upskilling with unconscious bias and emotional intelligence training 
    • Recruit for diversity and use processes that are free from bias, for example diverse interview panels  
  • Diverse employee mental health needs:
    • Actively recognise the need for individual mental health support 
    • Regularly review and update policies that address mental health 
    • Offer a diverse range of people and culture programs for individual career and life stages such as early in career or transitioning to retirement 
    • Provide wellbeing education and resources that cover a diverse range of topics  
  • Challenges with burnout:  
    • Focus on clear communication during peak periods in workload, and ensure employees feel safe to speak up if they are overwhelmed  
    • Ensure appropriate resource planning to alleviate bottlenecks and address peak work periods 
    • Ensure workloads are reasonable and achievable, and are supported by mentorship and training  
  • Challenges setting work-related boundaries :
    • Ensure employee motivators, such as flexible working, are addressed and tailored solutions implemented 
    • Set clear expectations about working hours and avoid work communication outside of these hours
    • Encourage open and safe dialogue with employees on what balance looks like for them
  • Satisfaction in remuneration, considering cost of living pressures 
    • Understand your employees’ career aspirations and ensure actionable and tangible goals are included in career development plans  
    • Introduce formal intrinsic and extrinsic reward systems to encourage peer-to-peer recognition
    • Make sure employees are educated about your complete employee benefits package 
    • Be transparent regarding the regular review of remuneration to ensure salaries are benchmarked in line with market 
  • Declining job satisfaction, engagement and motivation 
    • Allocate time for regular, open and important conversations 
    • Build social connection and relationships within teams through team activities and collaboration 
    • Consider ways to collaboratively design work so that it is meaningful 
    • Ensure people leaders know how to identify individual motivational factors and can develop strategies to address them 
For any media enquiries, journalists can contact our Media team.
The research was commissioned by Allianz and conducted by YouGov in accordance with the Australian Polling Council standard. The survey is a nationally representative sample comprised of 1,500 employees (middle managers and below) and 521 managers (senior managers and above) in Australia aged 18 years and older. This study was conducted online between 23 May 2023 and 31 May 2023. Following the completion of interviewing, the data was weighted by age, gender and region to reflect the latest ABS population estimates.
  1. Over a third (35 per cent) of surveyed employees stated cost of living pressures are negatively impacting their job satisfaction. 
  2. 33 per cent of surveyed employees stated fatigue and burnout pressures are negatively impacting their job satisfaction. 
  3. Allianz Workers' Compensation claims data comparing primary psychological active claims for FY19 compared to FY23, across all Allianz portfolios including; Allianz Australia's Underwritten Workers' Compensation, NSW Managed Fund (for both private and public sector employees) and Victorian Managed Fund Portfolios. 
  4. More than 2 in 5 (41 per cent) of surveyed employees are likely to consider leaving their current organisation in the next 6–12 months, the equivalent of 1.4 million employees when extrapolated to the general population, saying they are very likely to do so. 
  5. Allianz Workers' Compensation claims data comparing primary psychological active claims for FY19 compared to FY23, across all Allianz portfolios including; Allianz Australia's Underwritten Workers' Compensation, NSW Managed Fund (for both private and public sector employees) and Victorian Managed Fund Portfolios. 
  6. More than 2 in 5 (41 per cent) of surveyed employees are likely to consider leaving their current organisation in the next 6–12 months, the equivalent of 1.4 million employees when extrapolated to the general population, saying they are very likely to do so.
Allianz Australia has been securing the future of our customers in Australia since 1914. We deliver a wide range of personal and commercial insurance products and services to more than 3 million policyholders. We also provide support for workers' compensation insurance to around 25% of the top 200 ASX companies, making us one of the leading workers' compensation insurers in Australia.

Allianz Australia Limited is a wholly owned subsidiary of the worldwide Allianz Group. The Allianz Group is one of the world's leading insurers and asset managers with corporate customers in more than 70 countries. Allianz customers benefit from a broad range of personal and corporate insurance services, ranging from property, life, and health insurance to assistance services, credit insurance and global business insurance. Thanks to our systematic integration of ecological and social criteria in our business processes and investment decisions, we are among the leaders in the insurance industry in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index.
This article has been prepared by Allianz Australia Insurance Limited ABN 15 000 122 850 AFSL234708 (“Allianz”). In some cases, information has been provided to us by third parties and while that information is believed to be accurate and reliable, its accuracy is not guaranteed in any way.

Any opinions expressed constitute our views at the time of issue and are subject to change. Neither Allianz, nor its employees or directors give any warranty of accuracy or accept responsibility for any loss or liability incurred by you in respect of any error, omission or misrepresentation in this article.
Allianz acknowledges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the Traditional Custodians of the lands on which we live and work across Australia. We pay our respect to First Nations Elders past and present.

Any advice here does not take into account your individual objectives, financial situation or needs. Terms, conditions, limits, and exclusions apply. Before making a decision about this insurance, consider the relevant Product Disclosure Statement (PDS)/Policy Wording and Supplementary PDS (if applicable). Where applicable, the PDS/Policy Wording, Supplementary PDS and Target Market Determination (TMD) for this insurance are available on this website. We do not provide any form of advice if you call us to enquire about or purchase a product.

Allianz Australia Insurance Limited ABN 15 000 122 850 AFS Licence No. 234708 is the insurer of any general insurance products offered, and Allianz Australia Life Insurance Limited ABN 27 076 033 782 AFS Licence No. 296559 is the insurer of any life insurance products offered. Each entity is responsible for any statements and representations made about its products, on this website.