Press Release


SYDNEY, Australia, December 9, 2021

Gartner HR Survey Finds Australian Employees Less Willing to Go ‘Above and Beyond’ at Work

Active Job Seeking Rises Ahead of Expected Increase in Employee Turnover

The impact of extended COVID-19 lockdowns in major Australian cities took its toll on workers in 3Q21 as discretionary effort levels – or willingness to go above and beyond at work – fell to new lows, according to Gartner, Inc.

The survey conducted in between July and September 2021 showed that the proportion of workers displaying high discretionary effort fell to 13.9%, down from 15.6% last quarter and 16.9% year-over-year. Business confidence among employees in Australia also fell by 7.6% from 2Q21.

The proportion of employees actively seeking a new job rose slightly from 22.5% last quarter to 23.4% in 3Q21. While 40.5% of Australian employees surveyed reported high intent to stay with their current employer, the Gartner survey found variability between job functions and industries. For example, only 12% of Australian IT workers showed high intent to stay, pointing to a significant turnover problem.

Aaron McEwan, vice president in the Gartner HR practice, said the data paints a picture of a decline in Australian workforce health and confirms the heavy toll of more than 18 months living and working through a pandemic.

“If there is any doubt that the ‘Great Resignation’ seen in the U.S. is coming to Australia, this data dispels it. It is likely there will be an increase in people leaving their jobs around March next year, once hiring picks up after the summer holidays and annual bonuses are paid,” said McEwan.

Act now to set expectations and retain staff

There is still an opportunity for organizations to get ahead of the problem, by providing clarity to employees before the end of the year on what to expect in 2022. Work-life balance remains the top priority for Australians seeking a new job, and the no. 2 reason for leaving, according to the Gartner survey.

“We’re already seeing organizations pilot innovative solutions like 4-day work weeks, more flexible working arrangements and more comprehensive leave policies including paternal, miscarriage and menstrual leave,” said McEwan.

Manager quality was the top reason employees reported for leaving their role, followed by work-life balance.

“Even when an organization’s policies allow flexibility, the implementation often still comes down to the employee’s direct manager,” said McEwan. “Workers dissatisfied with their employer’s attitude and policies towards management and flexibility will likely use the holiday period to plan their next career move.”

Compensation is now the no. 3 reason why Australians would leave their current employer. Two years ago, compensation did not appear in the top ten reasons for leaving.

To successfully retain staff, organizations must treat their employees as people, not workers, and invest heavily in re-designing work to be more human-centric, according to Gartner.

Table 1. Labor Market Survey Highlights for Australia, Q3 2021

Key Measures


Global Average

Business Confidence Index



Job Opportunity Barometer



Active Job Seeking



Discretionary Effort



Drivers of Attraction

1.Work-Life Balance




2.Work-Life Balance


Drivers of Attrition

1.Manager Quality

2.Work-Life Balance




3.Manager Quality

Source: Gartner (December 2021)

The Gartner Global Labor Market Survey is made up of more than 18,000 employees in 40 countries, including 849 in Australia in Q321. The data above is reflective of market conditions during the quarter.

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