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With the Great Resignation, Australians are ditching pre-Covid burnout

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… and pursuing better work-life balance.

WHEN MY MANAGER recently let me know my position was being made redundant under a sweeping new organisational restructure I felt a mix of emotions — gratitude for the time I’d worked there, sadness for the work colleagues I would miss, a tinge of insecurity about what my future would hold. 

But the strongest feeling I had was relief. I’d started this job on a four-month contract that had been extended for 14 months and, after enduring almost two years of rolling lockdowns in Melbourne, I could feel the risk of burnout seeping in. 

It wasn’t that I didn’t love my job — I absolutely did and respect the organisation I worked for. But I had started to reconsider my priorities post-COVID and realised I was looking for a less office-bound but more fulfilling life. And I’m not the only one. 

In what has been dubbed the “Great Resignation”, workers all over the world are increasingly retreating from pre-COVID work patterns. Many are unwilling to go back to the 9-to-5 office grind after having had a taste of working from home, or simply revolting against the idea that our lives should be defined by never-ending treadmills of career aspirations.

For Dr Zali Yager, who moved from Melbourne to regional New South Wales with her family after two years of uncertainty and disruption due to COVID, working remotely in a beachside town has helped her reassess her life priorities. She is set to resign from her secure university position. 

“When we first moved, I thought I would be looking for another university position up here. I now feel much less need for a ‘title’, and would rather be pursuing impact and making research matter in the real world rather than just writing scientific papers that are only read by other researchers,” she says.

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IMAGE: Tara Harrison believes COVID lockdowns have triggered a work-life “reset” for people across the board. (Supplied)

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