Do we have a sickie epidemic?
Australian workers take 90 million sick days off every year – with the Australian ‘sickie’ seemingly now ingrained in our work culture. But do employers really understand and address some of the legitimate reasons workers don’t show up for work?
Mental illness is one of the biggest contributors to workplace absences. A National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing indicated that around 45 per cent of Australians ages 16-85 would experience a high prevalence of mental disorder, such as depression, anxiety or a substance abuse disorder, in their lifetime (ABS 2008).
Media and technology brand WellBeing Media recently launched WellBeing GROW, a new business that distils 30 years of experience into a natural, science-based approach to corporate wellbeing and education.
“We want to help businesses take back some of the 90 million sick days Australian employees take off each year. It’s far too many. Sick leave costs the Australian economy over $33 billion per year and we want to help businesses reduce absenteeism,” WellBeing GROW managing director Charles Hunter said.
“There is a flow on effect when an employee doesn’t come to work. It can make other employees less productive and negatively impact staff morale and workplace culture.
“Many businesses actually don’t know how to address mental health issues in the workplace. Many managers that I have spoken to don’t really understand how to appropriately deal with mental health or understand how to have a conversation with team members or colleagues in need. WellBeing GROW wants to help workplaces change this behaviour.”
WellBeing GROW’s editor-in-chief, Terry Robson, said implementing strategies to improve the mental health of employees was an important investment for businesses as poor mental health and absenteeism directly affects business profitability.
“People with low job satisfaction often report higher levels of depression, sleep problems, and excessive worry,” Mr Robson said.
“On top of that, low job satisfaction leads to more emotional problems and lower scores on overall mental health. The good news is there are many strategies individuals and organisations can use to promote good mental health in the workplace and organisations can lead the way by being more proactive about mental health initiatives.”