Sunday, July 21, 2024

Sick days weighing down Aussie businesses

Workplace absenteeism has cost Australian businesses $14.1 billion in lost productivity so far this year, and is expected to rise to $24.2 billion by the end of 2022, according to a new report from global researchers, Frost & Sullivan.

The study, commissioned by Rentokil Initial, found employers are experiencing 70% higher levels of absenteeism than this time last year, the impacts of which are said to be devastating for productivity, teamwork and ultimately, the Australian economy.

“The continued presence of Covid-19 in the Australian population, including the spike in new cases caused by the Omicron variant, combined with a surge in cases of influenza and other respiratory illnesses, has caused levels of worker absenteeism to increase significantly over the pre-Covid norm,” says Rentokil Initial Managing Director Pacific Andrew Stone.

According to the research, one in ten employees are absent from work on any given day. Many employees have exhausted their sick leave balances with workers reporting an average of 10.9 days of absence so far in 2022 and 69% saying they’ve taken more sick leave in 2022 than pre-Covid.

It also found Gen Zs have taken the most sick leave, averaging at 14.3 sickies this year, compared with 8.9 days by Baby Boomers (aged 58+).

“The Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in workers now being significantly more reluctant to go to work if they have mild symptoms, such as a slight sore throat or sniffles,” says Frost & Sullivan Managing Director Mark Dougan.

“This is much higher amongst the younger generation, with 74% of workers aged under 24 pulling sickies with relatively minimal symptoms.”

The research indicated that whilst employers have invested significantly in workplace hygiene solutions, there is a gap in perception of the effectiveness of these solutions, and the majority of workers are still concerned about infection in the workplace.

Among retail workers, 84% were concerned about the risk of workplace infection. Retail employers also received the highest number of complaints from employees about workplace hygiene – 93% compared to an average of 70%.

Rentokil Initial advises businesses to take a 360-degree approach to hygiene to make a real difference, “which means looking at hand, surface, washroom and air hygiene”.

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