Sometimes we’ve just got to get real about the business side of things. “Burnout” is the word we hear commonly in the entrepreneurial space. However, how often are big picture and long term measures used to invest in workplace wellness in Australia? Recent corporate wellness statistics say it all about the reality for Australian businesses:

“Sick workers dragging themselves into the office are costing the Australian economy more than $34 billion a year.” – ABC News

The cost of stress in the workplace is real and so are the tangible business outcomes tied to when your team are feeling overworked and underappreciated. The ongoing effects of increased workplace stress are well-documented paths to destructive business. The business of burnout is more important than ever!


We’ve got to get real about the realities of workplace wellness in Australia

It’s not all about the trademark Aussie sunny skies and blue oceans down under - recent trends demonstrate a real need to address the wellness gap that’s affecting both global and local organisations. These essential insights are crucial for businesses to consider, when building health, safety and productivity initiatives for a more motivated workforce.

"95 percent of human resource leaders say that employee burnout is sabotaging their workforce." — Kronos Incorporated and Future Workplace


Presenteeism is one piece of the puzzle

With looming deadlines around every corner, it might seem normal to see both healthy and sick coworkers coming into the office every day. There’s just so much to do! Yet, this unspoken culture of coming to work, whether rain or shine, in sickness and in health – also known as “presenteeism” – is leaving a hole in the company wallet and in the economy. Overworked and unhealthy employees are more likely to underperform and spread illness to colleagues, leading to disengagement, demotivation and many lost hours of productivity.

"Presenteeism is a concept that describes people being present at work but not productive. Current research shows this to be a $33 billion loss to Australian industry." — Carnegie MG

A renewed commitment to addressing workplace wellness in Australia would foremost need to tackle the pervasive culture of presenteeism. Demanding employee presence, over quality of work and life, is in the long term detrimental to both business and individual.


Presenteeism and absenteeism: two sides of the same coin

While presenteeism involves ongoing attendance despite factors saying otherwise, absenteeism is a habitual pattern of absence emblematic of deeper issues. In action, they seem polar opposites, yet they’re often simply two sides of the same coin – both are symptoms of a workforce experiencing a wellness gap.

"Stress-related presenteeism and absenteeism are costing the Australian economy $14.81 billion a year." — Medibank

Stress-related presenteeism and absenteeism amounts to billions for the economy. You might have witnessed what it looks like among your own colleagues at some point. Have you spotted absenteeism in “Dave”, who is disengaged and more often absent, feeling so frustrated and overwhelmed by a workaholic blame-culture? Perhaps you’ve noticed presenteeism in “Mary” who’s always around at work, feeling stressed out and concerned about her job security in a kill-or-be-killed competitive culture.

Ultimately, the cost of stress in the workplace goes further than mere dollars. Every company stands to lose immensely in terms of lower productivity, morale and engagement among employees.


There’s more at stake than you think

There’s more at stake when employees are disengaged from their work. The success of your business lives and breathes through the thriving workplace culture, that promotes and empowers proactive individuals to grow.

"95 percent of human resource leaders say that employee burnout is sabotaging their workforce." — Kronos Incorporated and Future Workplace

Companies need to provide more than simply a verbal stance on culture through translating their principles and vision into actionable policy and a commitment to ongoing improvement. Furthermore, investing in workplace wellness and employee growth in the long term is a testament to your belief in their potential, further empowering them to go the extra mile.

A sustainable vision for workplace wellness in Australia needs to encompass a culture change where well being, continuous growth and a team spirit are key priorities for everyone.

Ultimately, company culture happens regardless of whether you want it to, or not, so staying proactive is a must.


Saying goodbye is hard

It’s not all farewell cards and cake when an employee leaves. However small or large their role in the organisation, the departure of a colleague can disrupt processes, make obsolete many hours of recruitment, onboarding, and training time, and cost the organisation some serious dollars. Ultimately, the departure of any colleague will average a loss of 2.5 times their full time salary.

“Turnover costs your bottom line 2.5 times per a full-time employee’s salary. A productive $55,000 a year, experienced employee leaving your company costs you $122,500.” — Carnegie MG

While a certain level of turnover is normal of any organisation, high levels of turnover are more associated with toxic cultures and workplaces where there are long hours and little opportunity to grow or progress. Crucial preventive measures are necessary to action through committed efforts to transform culture for the long run and invest in the wellbeing of your workforce.


The workplace is changing and so are you

Over decades of a transforming economy, the way we work has undeniably changed, and so have our needs as employees and individuals. Fact is, workplace wellness affects the productivity of an organisation as a whole. Since the way we work is changing, the way we invest in our team has to change as well.

“While the psychosocial hazards of work are growing, the working environment is becoming less physically active due to the transition from manufacturing to service economies, technological advances and workflow improvements, with approximately 67.3 per cent of the day being spent in sedentary activity. The economic cost of physical inactivity, in terms of lost productivity, was estimated at $9.3 billion in 2008.” — Medibank and PWC

Psychosocial hazards are on the increase and physical labour is on the decrease, therefore, concerted efforts to invest in workplace wellness in Australia must reflect these changes. A vision of discernable change encompasses a workforce empowered to grow and progress in their careers, in ways aligned with business objectives and through environments where wellbeing is priority.


Over to you

So where does that leave us? The truth is, the success of your business hinges on the strength of your team and the cost of stress in the workplace are leaving their mark on them. Those tens, hundreds or thousands of employees doing great work behind the scenes are the real heroes, so it’s crucial to give them the tools and opportunities to flourish. After all:

“Good health is good business.” — Dame Carol Black

Are you a business brain with a drive to see your team thrive? We’ve collaborated with incredible experts on mental health to equip organisations everywhere with flexible and effective tools to tackle burnout. Our accessible series brings together the best in mind science and digital learning, so your team members can bridge the wellness gap and tackle workplace stress from the ground up.

Discover how your organisation can embrace workplace wellness in actionable ways through an interactive wellness e-learning series