Posted On August 20, 2015

The AI Group has released alarming figures that highlight the financial impact of poor health on the Australian economy.

Its 2014 ‘Absenteeism & Presenteeism Survey Report’ estimates that absenteeism costs organisations around $536 per employee for each day they’re off work. The annual cost to the Australian economy in personal leave payments is $24 billion alone.

Presenteeism – turning up to work when you’re not fit to carry out your role – is an even bigger concern. That’s not just the person that drags themselves into the office when they’re physically ill. Employees that are struggling with an emotional crisis like divorce or the death of a relative often can’t perform to full their capacity either.

A recent Direct Health Solutions survey found that when staff aren’t able to carry out their jobs for reasons such as these, the estimated cost to the organisation can be three or four times that of being absent.

It’s no surprise then that to grow a healthy enterprise, you need to help your employees remain fit and well too.

Heading for the perfect storm

The many and varied demands of today’s workplace are a challenge at best. Long hours, increasing workloads, personality clashes, a toxic culture and worries about job security are some of the factors that put workers under pressure every day.

Add to that the conflicting demands of family life and our ‘always-on’ approach to technology, and we’re heading for a physical and mental prefect storm.

We’re already pretty close.

Work-related stress is the second most common compensated illness/injury in Australia.

When Safe Work Australia analysed successful worker’s compensation claims, the data revealed that mental stress is costing Australian organisations more than $10 billion per year. The final figure would be far more if it included those outside of the dataset (people who don’t apply for compensation).

The report also revealed that mental stress claims made for work pressure were more than any other sub-category.

Workplace well-being initiatives are key to reducing costs

Leading professional services consultancy PricewaterhouseCoopers has estimated that for every $1 an organisation invests in creating a mentally healthy workplace, it may expect an average return of $2.30.

With work-related stress a safety concern as well as a cost, forward-thinking companies are already finding ways to support the mental health and well-being of their staff. Practical measures such as health assessments, flexible working arrangements and improved office environments are gaining momentum across most industry sectors.

Brain training completes the picture

These positive physical and environmental changes are only half the solution to workplace well-being.

Employees who develop strong mental resilience to stress will benefit from it throughout their career and in their private lives too.

One of the most useful stress management techniques used today is mindfulness.

Far from a new practice, mindfulness is a powerful way to calm the mind, improve focus and increase effectiveness. It helps develop the skills to recognise and manage the personal response to stress and boost brain function.

Besides the positive effect this can have on an individual, organisations can look forward to happier and more engaged employees, increased productivity, and less stress-related absence.

Begin building a mindful workforce

If you’d like to learn how to bring a culture of mindfulness into your organisation, please email or call us on 1300 658 388.

Other Resources

Assessment Tool: Mindfulness at Work Program

White Paper: Workplace Well-being

Webinar Recording: Workplace Well-being

Article: Building your Resilience

Workshop: Growing Resilience