Recently, I was out with a friend, and she mentioned how she hadn’t been into work that day. I asked her why she didn’t go, and she told me, “I just wasn’t having a good mental health day, so I called in sick.”
When I asked if she’d told them the truth about her mental health, she said she’d claimed a physical illness because she was embarrassed.
And this got me thinking. With almost 8 out of 10 organizations (79%) reporting that mental health is a major driver of workplace absence, how can employers take steps to tackle the issue if employees are lying about feeling mentally fit to work?
I started looking into whether other people were doing this, and the answers echoed that of my friend’s.
Slater and Gordon discovered that 55% of employees who took mental health days claimed to be physically unwell for fear of being judged, demoted, or sacked.
According to a global report published by Aetna International, more than half of employees (52%) diagnosed with mental health issues admitted to lying to their employer about taking a sick day. It also found that those with an undiagnosed mental health condition were more likely to lie about being sick due to stress (45%) and ‘feeling down’ (42%).
The pandemic brought the mental health crisis – and the real effects it had on business – to the forefront. With nearly 80% of workers saying that having access to mental health services would make them more productive, as well as 64% adding that they would be more attracted to a company that offered these, businesses have responded.
In the US, nearly 23% of workers say their employer has introduced new mental health support, and in the UK, YouGov found that 59% of large employers were offering mental health services.
All of which means that the challenge is now one of trust. Mental health can be a tricky discussion – but when employees are lying about it, there is no ‘discussion’ to be had.
So, if you are a business who would like to find out how the introduction of mental health support can drive employee performance and productivity, or how you can open up the conversation about mental health at work, you can get in touch with us here.
Copyright OrgShakers: The global HR consultancy for workplace transformation founded by David Fairhurst in 2020