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I Can’t Do This Anymore – Burnout in the Strata Industry

Updated: Nov 30, 2023

Written By: Courtney Butters-Kerr, B Strata
CHU SCA (WA) 2023 Strata Community Excellence Awards - Essay Award Winner


"I can't do this anymore," I sobbed, tears streaming down my face, shattering my once-

composed demeanour. It was a moment of utter defeat and anguish, as if my mind had fractured under the relentless weight of my responsibilities. While I had cried at work before, triggered by difficult interactions with challenging owners, this felt profoundly different. There was no hope of regaining my composure and carrying on with my tasks; I had reached my breaking point. Work had pushed me to where my brain felt irreparably fractured. In hindsight, it's clear I had been struggling for quite some time, and I wish I had been honest with myself and my employer much earlier. The workload had become insurmountable, client demands unrelenting, and the hours unsustainable. Tasks that once ignited my passion had morphed into burdens. Each email and phone call felt like an incessant barrage of expectations, adding even more stress to an already overwhelming workload. It was evident—I was deep in the throes of burnout.


Crash Course: Burnout

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines burnout as "a syndrome resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed" (WHO, 2019) and they have categorized this into three distinct dimensions:

  1. overwhelming sense of energy depletion or extreme exhaustion;

  2. notable mental detachment from one's job, accompanied by feelings of pessimism or cynicism towards it; and

  3. noticeable decline in professional effectiveness (WHO, 2019).

Employees and employers can utilize these dimensions as a checklist to identify workplace burnout signs for early intervention.


The Human Cost

Burnout takes a significant toll on individuals, impacting their physical and mental health. This includes fatigue, persistent headaches, and digestive problems. Furthermore, it elevates the risk of depression, anxiety, and other psychological challenges. Personal relationships also suffer, often leading to social isolation and strained interpersonal connections. Professionally, burnout culminates in reduced productivity, subpar job performance, increased absenteeism, and hinders career advancement (Future Institute, 2023).


The Ripple Effect

Burnout doesn't stop with the individual; it profoundly affects businesses and communities. Strata Management demands precision, complex problem-solving, strong business acumen, financial acuity, and the ability to thrive under pressure. When a strata manager experiences burnout, their performance deteriorates, potentially resulting in errors, overlooked details, and decision-making struggles. This cognitive impairment can lead to financial losses, legal issues, and dissatisfied clients. The organizational impacts of burnout are extensive, encompassing reduced company-wide productivity, increased absenteeism, low morale, decreased organisational performance, and high employee turnover (McKinsey, 2022c). The strata industry is already grappling with high employee turnover, with 33% of strata managers changing employers in 2022, contributing to a decline in profits for 28% of businesses (Macquarie, 2022). Compounding this, workers' compensation claims for mental health have the highest payouts and longest recovery time (Safe Work Australia, 2022).


The Gender Burnout Gap

Burnout rates are significantly higher among women, with a staggering 42% of women reporting experiencing burnout in 2022 and the ‘burnout gap’ nearly doubling from 2021 to 2022. This is primarily attributed to the additional burden of unpaid work that women are disproportionately expected to shoulder (McKinsey, 2022a). The Australian Bureau of Statistics reports that women perform over 9 hours more unpaid work per week than men (ABS, 2022). The consequences are evident, with more than 50% of women intending to leave their current employers within the next two years, with burnout as the primary catalyst (Deloitte, 2022). Although no official statistics on gender representation within the strata industry exist, anecdotal evidence suggests an overrepresentation of women, likely exceeding a 2:1 ratio based on informal observations. Given this higher representation of women, I believe that the strata industry is affected by burnout at a rate far surpassing the average.


Strata Struggles: Burnout in the Industry

Burnout isn't solely the product of heavy workloads and weighty responsibilities; it's a complex interplay of multiple critical factors. These encompass navigating increasingly intricate compliance and legal requirements, demanding meticulous attention and focus from strata managers. Furthermore, client expectations have soared to unrealistic, unreasonable levels, subjecting strata managers to immense pressure to meet these exaggerated demands. The emotional burden persists as strata managers frequently encounter and counsel distressed individuals, a vital yet emotionally draining aspect of the job. Additionally, handling abusive client communications compounds emotional strain and heightens the already demanding work environment. When coupled with the expectation of 24/7 availability, it forms a precarious mix. Studies have revealed a compelling link between specific personality traits (empathetic, people-pleaser, perfectionist, workaholic) and burnout (Montañez, 2019). Intriguingly, people with these same personality traits often excel as strata managers due to their compassion, personability, and attention to detail.


The Antidote: Prevention & Intervention

Preventing burnout in the strata management industry requires a comprehensive approach at all levels. The Strata Community Association should set the standard and actively propel essential changes in the industry. While the Respect Pledge is a commendable first step, there is more they can and should do. On the business front, strata management companies are responsible for preventing burnout. As persons conducting a business or undertaking (PCBUs), they have a legal obligation to minimize psychosocial hazards in the workplace. This can be achieved by implementing policies that ensure reasonable workloads, realistic deadlines, manageable client expectations, and limits on the number and length of after-hours meetings. Investing in employee support programs is another effective measure to address psychosocial risks and prevent burnout. Additionally, business leaders should promote flexible work arrangements where possible, reducing stress and enhancing work-life balance. They must react positively to raised concerns, institute substantial changes, and cultivate a safe environment for employees. At the individual level, emotional self-awareness and self-care are paramount. Employees must recognize the signs of burnout and take proactive measures to address them. This may involve setting boundaries on work hours, taking regular breaks, and seeking professional help if required. Mental well-being is crucial, but stress reduction alone won't prevent burnout. Creating a healthier, more sustainable work environment and preventing burnout in the strata management industry requires a collaborative effort at all levels—association, business, and individual.


The Last Word

Burnout is an undeniable issue that hits close to home within our industry. We can't afford to downplay its significance or turn a blind eye to its existence. It appears to be just an occupational hazard - part of the territory that comes with strata management - but it doesn't need to be. It is an opportunity for everyone involved in the industry to take a people-centric approach for our clients and ourselves.


Reference List

Burns, T., & Coe, E. (2022, October 7). Beyond burnout: What helps-and what doesn’t. McKinsey & Company. https://www.mckinsey.com/mhi/our-insights/beyond-burnout-what-helps-and-what-doesnt

Deloitte. (2022, December 4). Women at work outlook 2022: Deloitte Australia. Deloitte. https://www.deloitte.com/au/en/issues/work/women-at-work-outlook.html

Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety. (2022, July 14). Psychosocial hazards overview. Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety. https://www.dmp.wa.gov.au/Safety/Psychosocial-hazards-overview-25390.aspx

Macquarie. (2023). Reaching an inflection point: How to thrive in a challenging environment. 2023 Strata Management Benchmarking Report. https://www.macquarie.com.au/assets/bfs/documents/business-banking/bb-strata-industry/2023-macquarie-strata-benchmarking-report.pdf

Maslach, C., & Leiter, M. P. (2016, June). Understanding the burnout experience: Recent research and its implications for psychiatry. World psychiatry : official journal of the World Psychiatric Association (WPA). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4911781/

McKinsey & Company. (2021, December 17). _Author talks: Why burnout is an epidemic-and what to do about it. McKinsey & Company. https://www.mckinsey.com/featured-insights/mckinsey-on-books/author-talks-why-burnout-is-an-epidemic-and-what-to-do-about-it

McKinsey & Company. (2022a, January 4). The state of Burnout for women in the Workplace. McKinsey & Company. https://www.mckinsey.com/featured-insights/diversity-and-inclusion/the-state-of-burnout-for-women-in-the-workplace

McKinsey & Company. (2022b, May 27). _Addressing employee burnout: Are you solving the right problem?. McKinsey & Company. https://www.mckinsey.com/mhi/our-insights/addressing-employee-burnout-are-you-solving-the-right-problem

McKinsey & Company. (2022c, June 1). _Moving the needle on burnout: What does the data say?. McKinsey & Company. https://www.mckinsey.com/mhi/our-insights/moving-the-needle-on-burnout

McKinsey & Company. (2022d, October 18). _Women in the workplace 2022. McKinsey & Company. https://www.mckinsey.com/featured-insights/diversity-and-inclusion/women-in-the-workplace

McKinsey & Company. (2023, August 14). _What is burnout?. McKinsey & Company. Https://www.mckinsey.com/featured-insights/mckinsey-explainers/what-is-burnout#/

Safe Work Australia. Model Code of Practice: Managing psychosocial hazards at work_ | Safe Work Australia. (n.d.). https://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/doc/model-code-practice-managing-psychosocial-hazards-work

Montañez, R. (2019) Three types of personalities prone to burnout and what to do if you identify, Forbes. Available at: https://www.forbes.com/sites/rachelmontanez/2019/06/03/three-types-of-personalities-prone-to-burnout-and-what-to-do-if-you-identify/?sh=6c0c42db24db

Safe Work Australia. (2023, August 23). _Workers’ Compensation Data. Workers’ Compensation, Safe Work Australia. https://data.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/interactive-data/topic/workers-compensation

Tuohy, W. (2022, August 19). The “gender burnout gap” is real, but hands-on fathers also feel the pain, The Sydney Morning Herald. https://www.smh.com.au/national/the-gender-burnout-gap-is-real-but-hands-on-fathers-also-feel-the-pain-20220815-p5ba1q.html



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