Australians calling in sick to work could cost the national economy as much as $24 billion by the end of the year, new research shows.
The study, conducted by Frost and Sullivan, also found Gen Z was nearly twice as likely than Baby Boomers to call in sick, with the majority of young workers pulling the pin with minimal symptoms.
In all the study, which surveyed 200 employers and 510 employees, found businesses were experiencing a 70 per cent rise absenteeism this year compared to last.
Frost and Sullivan managing director Mark Dougan said higher rates of absenteeism were a lingering consequence of the pandemic.
“The 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 a sniffle,” Mr Dougan said.
“This is much higher among younger people, with 74 per cent of workers under the age of 24 pulling sickies with relatively minimal symptoms,” he said.
Jack Horgan, who co-owns multiple hospitality businesses in Melbourne, told NCA NewsWire absenteeism was a near-constant challenge to business owners.
“Certainly on weekends, as a business owner, it’s always on the back of your mind,” Mr Horgan said.
“The culture has certainly changed. People seem to call in sick far more frequently than when I was starting out, for example,” he said.
“And particularly in hospitality, one person down can effect an entire shift and an entire day. It increases the stress on everyone, which is invariably felt by the customers, no matter how hard you try.”
Andrew Stone, managing director at Rentokil Initial, who commissioned the study, said more employees working from home was detrimental to businesses.
“Our research highlights that at present, one in 10 employees are absent from work on any given day, which is negatively impacting businesses,” Mr Stone said.
“(N)ot just in lost productivity, but also in less measurable effects like reduced customer service and satisfaction, reduced staff collaboration and teamwork, and lost revenue,” he said.
Mr Stone’s comments were reinforced by a recent industry study conducted by LinkedIn, which showed business leaders overwhelmingly supported a return to offices.
The research, which canvassed more than 100 company leaders, found 77 per cent of them were reconsidering flexible working arrangements, and said that almost three quarters of business leaders preferred their staff to work in the office.