NGOs call for workers to go home on time

A new survey has found that 3.3 million Australians feel overworked, and 1 in 4 of these workers experience anxiety.

The Australia Institute and beyondblue have launched Go Home on Time Day, to be held on November 20, to encourage Aussie workplaces to de-stress by having employees leave work on time.

Kate Carnell, beyondblue CEO, said something is wrong in Australian workplaces as employees are working longer hours, yet productivity isn’t reflecting the added input.

“If you’re under the pump consistently, it can lead to sustained job stress, which is linked to depression and anxiety. Depression costs Australian businesses $12.3 billion every year through absenteeism, reduced productivity and staff turnover. So business owners need to wake up to the fact that poor work/life balance takes its toll on both their employees and their businesses,” Carnell said.

Dr Richard Denniss, executive director of The Australia Institute, said that Go Home on Time Day is a light-hearted way to start a serious conversation about work/life balance and the effects it can have on mental health.

“When people are expected to work increasingly longer hours, their stress levels rise because often they don’t know what time they can expect to leave work and have little job control. They fear that not working back may put their jobs at risk, but they also face pressure from home when they can’t meet their family’s expectations,” Denniss said.

Unemployed Australians are also experiencing stress. Over a million find involuntary time out of the workforce demoralising, with 1 in 5 experiencing anxiety as a result of their time out of work.

Go Home on Time Day is the latest in a line of initiatives aiming to raise awareness of, and improve, mental health in the workplace. The issue will be a key focus of Tasmania’s WorkSafe Month, which was launched on Monday.

Businesses are being encouraged to take part in Go Home on Time Day by promoting workplace activities like a morning tea, a lunchtime yoga class, and most importantly, a set time for everyone to go home.

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