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.
Copyright OrgShakers: The global HR consultancy for workplace transformation founded by David Fairhurst in 2020