'Doona days' are about taking time out for mental health. 'Doona days' are about taking time out for mental health.
Finance ‘No brainer’: Job seekers searching for roles offering ‘doona days’

‘No brainer’: Job seekers searching for roles offering ‘doona days’

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As mental health awareness grows, job seekers are looking for more than standard sick and annual leave, new data shows.

A survey by jobs site SEEK shows 57 per cent would be more keen to apply for a role if they saw ‘doona days’ were on offer to staff.

Separate to sick days and annual leave, doona days are typically paid-leave days that employees take to care for their mental wellbeing.

Seek resident psychologist Sabina Read said the pandemic was a catalyst for people to talk about their struggles in the workplace.

“I think we’ve normalised and we understand that humans have tough times,” she said.

“It does a disservice to the employer and employee if we don’t acknowledge that sometimes we all do it tough, and we all need a break to reset.”

A report by Deloitte and Swinburne University of Technology released this week shows 93 per cent of surveyed workers believe their physical, emotional and mental wellbeing at work is just as important as their pay.

But despite the widespread interest in doona days, Seek data shows only 18 per cent of survey respondents are offered doona days by their current employers.

Caring for mental health a ‘no brainer’

Lyndall Spooner, founder and CEO of customer experience research company Fifth Dimension, said it was a “no-brainer” that job seekers wanted doona days.

Although the company doesn’t use that term, it offers unlimited mental health leave to its employees, who only need to text their boss when they want a day off and do not need to provide a reason why.

Ms Spooner said she introduced the policy because caring for workers’ mental health and preventing “mental injury” was part of an employer’s duty of care.

“If you admit to [having a mental health issue], you’re an incredibly strong person to be honest, because you’re putting yourself out there,” she said.

Ms Read said trust between employers and employees was essential to the success of such schemes – and Ms Spooner agreed.

Before the pandemic, a 2020 Productivity Commission Mental Health Inquiry found poor mental health in workplaces cost Australia up to $39 billion in lost participation and productivity.

Making the most of a doona day

Ms Read said rather than spending the day in bed bingeing TV shows, workers should use their doona days to support and nurture themselves.

“I think a doona day is self-care,” she said.

“It might include some additional sleep under the doona, but it might also include going for a walk, or lying in the bath, or it could include … seeing someone who’s going to provide support to you, whether that’s personal or professional support,” she said.

Ms Spooner said an “old-fashioned” view might be that people would milk doona days if given the chance, but she doesn’t think this applies to the majority of workers.

Seek data shows 56 per cent of workers take the doona days offered to them.

“So there’s really only benefits to businesses and employers that offer this, and downsides if you don’t,” Ms Spooner said.

“It just looks like you’re not a modern-day workplace if you’re not taking these things into account, and if you’re not being more supportive of the people who are making your company successful.”