Stressed workers costing economy $730m a year

by 07 Oct 2010

Job-stress related depression is costing Australia’s economy $730 million a year, according to a new report.

With employees taking on extra work and therefore excessive pressure, the strain is proving too much for many.

Associate Professor Tony LaMontagne from the University of Melbourne School of Population Health, said that “job strain”, where workers have little control over their job, but who are under high pressure to perform, accounts for 17 per cent of depression in working women and 13 per cent in working men.

“These figures represent a significant burden on the Australian economy that is preventable by improving job quality,” he said.

The report from University of Melbourne and VicHealth said that the $730 million job strain price tag includes lost productive time, employee replacement costs, government-subsidised mental health services and medications for depression.

It equates to $11.8 billion over the average working lifetime, with the biggest loss accruing to employers. The report also revealed an $85 million cost of absences for depressed workers who do not have access to paid sick leave, which also represents a significant cost to employees. “There has always been legal and ethical reasons for employers to address poor working conditions and to support staff, but these new findings add an economic incentive as well. Employers would be the major beneficiaries of reducing job strain over the long term, because the greatest costs fall on employers due to lost productivity and employee replacement,” said LaMontagne. Todd Harper, VicHealth CEO, added: “This report raises questions about the current workplace culture in Australia. We need to develop strategies that can be applied in all workplaces to make them healthier, happier and more productive environments that nurture good health rather than cause ill-health.”


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