The technology research firm Gartner said the survey was part of a global exercise during which it canvassed the views of more than 40,000 employees in 40 countries.
"Australian workplaces have exhausted staff morale and decimated effort levels, with employees now on the brink of burnout and ready to quit," Gartner said.
During what it terms its 1Q2019 Global Talen Monitor, the company said that what it called discretionary effort levels — or the willingness to go above and beyond at work — had fallen to the lowest point since 1Q2014.
Among Australians, 15.7% reported high discretionary effort levels in the first quarter of 2019, marginally more than the global average of 15%, and down from a high of 23% in 2Q2017.
“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, advisory leader in the Gartner HR practice.
“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."
Gartner said the respect factor rose seven places in 1Q2019 to become the leading driver of attrition among Australian workers, followed by manager quality, which was up two places.
During the quarter, Australian employees’ intent to stay fell 8%, while active job-seeking increased by 5.6%. McEwan said when workers were fed up and tired, their first instinct was flight over fight.
“Even though the external job market is not particularly favourable for candidates today, leaving becomes a more attractive prospect than remaining in a job where you feel undervalued and mentally exhausted,” he added.