A political staffer who quit saying she was overworked has warned that Australia is becoming the ‘burnout capital of the world’, even though older generations consider the working generation to be home as too lenient.
Political activist Sally Rugg, who was chief of staff to Independent MP for Teal Monique Ryan, has sued her former boss for unreasonable working conditions, including sometimes working more than 70 hours a week.
She was awarded nearly $100,000 in an out-of-court settlement in April.
Ms Rugg says it has become normal for Australians to work excessive hours, although she feels there is little benefit to doing so.
“The hours Australians put in are completely out of this world,” Ms Rugg told 60 Minutes reporter Tom Steinfort.
“Australia is one of the world’s capitals in a state of professional burnout.
Activist Sally Rugg (pictured en route to court), who was chief of staff to Turquoise Independent MP Monique Ryan, sued her former boss for unreasonable working conditions, including sometimes working more than 70 hours a week
“There are around four million Australians who work more than 45 hours a week, two million who work more than 50 hours a week and one million people who work more than 60 hours a week.
“There’s a lot of the population working really long hours and it’s become completely normalized to the point where it doesn’t really raise eyebrows anymore.”
Ms Rugg said she “respects” how hard baby boomers worked during their time in the workforce, but said they also had it easier when it came to the cost of living.
She explained that home ownership for someone her age had become “almost unimaginable” and that, like many other millennials, she saw no benefit in working more hours without pay.
This was compared to older generations who were able to have children and buy a family home on a quarter-acre city block, even on just one income.
“To people of my generation, the promise that if you work hard, that work will be rewarded…that idea sounds more like a myth,” Ms Rugg said.
“If this hard work doesn’t pay off as we were promised, why would we sacrifice time with our loved ones? »
But while millennials and Gen Z oppose bosses to restore work-life balance, older generations have felt that the generation of the smashed soy latte is more apt to complain than work. .
Scott Galloway, an economics professor at New York University, says the idea that people could enjoy a good work-life balance and thrive financially is a “myth” that younger generations need to shake.
New York University economics professor Scott Galloway (pictured) says young people who want to do something with their lives should put in the hours.
“One thing successful people have in common is that they work exceptionally hard, and that requires compromise,” he said.
“What I would say to young people is that they can have it all, but they can’t have it all at once.
“If you’re ambitious, you need to save the hours.”
Professor Galloway also warned of the seeming permanence of the work-from-home culture long after the logic of Covid has died down, saying remote working will lead to more unemployment.
“It’s terrible for young people, remote work,” he said.
“There’s just one basic reality: if your job can be moved from Sydney to Melbourne, it can be moved to Manila and then to Mumbai.
“So be clear if you want to work remotely, more power to you and if you can find that job, great, you’ll make less money plus potential job losses.”
MP Teal Monique Ryan (pictured) was sued by Ms Rugg who was awarded nearly $100,000 in an out-of-court settlement
Former political staffer Sally Rugg (pictured), who took her former boss to court over long hours, said Australia was the ‘burnout capital of the world’
Professor Galloway added that people are “getting used to the flexibility” of remote working, but are “lacking a certain level of accountability” that would allow them to move forward.
He said even getting ready for work and going to the office is a structure and a routine in a person’s life.
Billionaire Atlassian co-founder Scott Farquhar disagrees: he rarely comes to the office once, despite living in central Sydney.
Employees at the tech company also benefit from flexible work arrangements, with many working remotely full-time.
“I work from home all the time and come into the office about once a quarter,” Mr Farquhar, 43, told 60 Minutes.
Billionaire Atlassian co-founder Scott Farquhar (pictured) admitted he only comes into the office once every three months
The tech entrepreneur avoids the office despite living just 6km away in Point Piper in Sydney Harbor where he owns a $130million mansion near a ferry stop with direct transport by water to Circular Quay.
Ironically, even Eric Yuan, chief executive of videoconferencing company Zoom – which has enabled working from home – has ordered staff to return to the office at least two days a week if they live within an 80km radius.
If the Zoom rule were applied in Sydney, employees wishing to buy a house themselves to live in within a reasonable commute of the city would be limited to an apartment.
This is because the houses located 80 km from the city are out of reach of a middle income earner with a salary of $95,581.
Woy Woy, on the central coast, 84km north of central Sydney, has such an expensive median house price, at $898,306, that an average worker, with a 20 per cent mortgage deposit, would have a debt-to-income ratio of 7.5.
This is well above the Australian Prudential Regulatory Authority’s “six” threshold for mortgage stress.
Commonwealth Bank chief executive Matt Comyn has faced a backlash from staff this year for demanding he return to the office two or three times a week.
In May, he told the 49,000 employees they would be required to come into the office at least 50 percent of the time from July.
Mr Comyn, who earns $10.4 million a year, followed the lead of NAB chief executive Ross McEwan, who admitted he expected his top executives to return to NAB headquarters. bank five days a week.