I love last pages of magazines that are silly in one way or another, an honored tradition too often now absent. Fast Company is one of those that still honors the tradition–with the “Numerology” page. The April 2010 page was called “Under Pressure” and was about stress.
There are seven textual segments. One of the seven includes the following:
In Sweden, mental illness, including stress and anxiety, accounts for 41% of total sick pay, up from 15% in 1990. The nation has one of the world’s most generous sick-leave laws–workers can get up to 75% of their salary for years.
One in four Americans admits to having taken a “mental-health day” to cope with stress. This costs employers $602 per worker per year.
I’m not going to comment on the Swedish situation.
As to the second one, however, I question the item–indeed, my immediate response has to do with bovine excrement.
Oh, not the first sentence–if anything, I’m surprised that it’s that low. (Is that one in four American workers in jobs that have sick leave, or one in four Americans overall?)
What I question: “This costs employers $602 per worker per year.”
I would bet that, for most employees to take a mental health day when they really need one, those days save the employers real money, particularly if you include productivity (including efficiency and effectiveness for white-collar workers).
I’m guessing that one mental health day totally away from the office and its stresses can easily replace oh, a week or more of half-efficiency days at work–or, for that matter, help fend off real stress-related sickness that results in much more lost time.
It’s like the old (and not so old) figures as to how many billions of dollars of wages were (are) “lost” to people checking social networks at work, or having non-work conversations at the water cooler, or doing anything other than slaving away every single minute from the time you clock in (you do clock in, right) until the time you clock out.
If employees are machines with flesh, then maybe those numbers make sense. If employees are people, they don’t.
And Fast Company, more than most business-related magazines, should know better.