National resource review
Curing Australian workers’ “sickie” epidemic
Australian workers take a staggering 90 million sick days off every year – with the Australian “sickie” seemingly now engrained in our work culture. What’s worse, it seems employers are failing to understand and address some of the legitimate reasons workers don’t show up for work.
Excessive and prolonged work pressure leading to burnout and operating in an “always-on” culture facilitated by technology and modern mobile devices have eroded the boundaries between work and personal life and are just some of the legitimate reasons people take sick leave.
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 aged 16–85 would experience a high prevalence of mental disorder, such as depression, anxiety or a substance abuse disorder in their lifetime (ABS 2008).
Charles Hunter, Managing Director of WellBeing GROW, said, “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 dollars per year and we want to help businesses reduce absenteeism.”
“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 behavior.”
“WellBeing GROW’s emphasis on long lasting behavioural and cultural change within an organisation means employers can save significantly on stress-related absenteeism,” said Mr Hunter.
WellBeing GROW has wellness training programs based on 5 key pillars: Mind, Body, Sleep, Nutrition and Community. Once extensive employee research has been conducted within a business, the programs are then tailored to the needs and culture of each unique business, helping them enforce lasting cultural change and maximise talent acquisition, retention and productivity.
WellBeing GROW was developed and curated by leading experts in fields such as clinical psychology, medical science, nutrition and fitness. They create and implement wellbeing strategies including online learning solutions, live seminars, individual or group coaching, strategic custom content, HR data analytics and team fitness solutions.
To help promote awareness of mental health issues and corporate wellness, WellBeing GROW is undergoing a series of interviews with senior executives in the private and public sectors who are leaders of employee health and wellness in their respective organisations.
Notable recent interviews include Carlene York, Commander of HR for the NSW Police who ran the famous Naden case; Matt Kean, NSW Minister for Innovation and Better Regulation, who has a very personal interest in mental health and other senior executives from companies including CBA, Cotton On, Australia Post and AMP.
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. 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.”
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