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).

Sick leave costs the Australian economy over $33 billion dollars per year

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.

Mental illness is also a major driver of presenteeism, where an employee goes to work despite not feeling well and therefore has very low productivity. The cost of presenteeism to the Australian economy is a whopping $34.1 billion. 

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.

If you think you need advice or help the CMAA offer to its members a care line with Chester Carter. You can call 1300 464 262