Stress and depression are the largest contributors to lost productivity in Australia, according to the AIG Absenteeism & Presenteeism Survey Report.

On average, Australian employees take 8.8 unscheduled days off per year.

This costs employers approximately $578 per employee per absent day, with the annual cost of absenteeism to the Australian economy an estimated $44 billion per year.

Research indicates employees are feeling undervalued and overwhelmed.

The good news is early intervention and support can make a difference. Productivity losses are halved when employees with mental health conditions seek early intervention or treatment.

One of the keys to enabling this change is ensuring that business leaders, managers and peers discuss the benefits of getting help in a genuine, positive way. There is a pressing need to eradicate stigma and discrimination, whilst ensuring we reach out and support our colleagues when it’s needed.

What can HR do to create a more supportive culture in the workplace?

  1. Encourage employees to speak to their manager if they’re having any issues. If an employee comes to you, treat them with sensitivity, respect and empathy.
  2. If you’re going to ask an employee “Are you ok?” pick your moment. Choose a private and informal location, and suitable time. Make sure you’ve blocked out enough time for the conversation.
  3. Listen without judgement and take what they say seriously.
  4. Encourage them to take action such as talking to family, a trusted friend, their doctor or EAP Assist.
  5. Maintain their confidentiality and privacy.
  6. Remember to follow up in a few days and check how the person is going.
  7. Refer to our Wellness Facts to help with conversations: