What is absenteeism?
Absenteeism can be described as unplanned absences from the working environment and can also be viewed as an indicator of poor individual performance or a breach of contract between an employee and their employer.
What may seem to be a habitual pattern of absence from duty without good reason may be due to chronic physical pain or a mental health condition. Sometimes the employee will not want to disclose this for several reasons, which may include privacy or stigma.
Occupational Health (OH) can have a direct effect on a company’s productivity via employee welfare.
Having a good relationship with your Occupational Health (OH) provider and providing your employees with access to OH services can lead to better communication, insight and may even facilitate adjustments being put in place. This will allow the employee to reduce their absenteeism and increase their productivity in the workplace.
The top 5 reasons for absenteeism:
- Illness or injury making it difficult to attend work due to pain (e.g. musculoskeletal problems), or even embarrassment (e.g. unpredictable bowel problems)
- Mental health problems – due to previous years of stigma, people are still reluctant to share they are not coping with their mental health
- Burnout – This can be caused by work related stress, problems at home, financial stressors; and, or a combination of all these factors
- Bullying (or a perception of) in the working environment
- Family situations such as caring for a relative or child, or even coping with an abusive situation in the home
The Office of National Statistics (ONS) for the United Kingdom states that in 2021:
- 149.3 million working days were lost due to illness or injury – this is the equivalent of 4.6 days per worker in the UK
- The most common reasons for absence in 2021 in the UK were that of musculoskeletal problems, accidents, mental health problems, diabetes related health problems, and coronavirus (COVID-19)
Presenteeism in the workplace
Presenteeism is described as days wasted by staff being too sick to adequately perform their job but continue to attend work due to pressure from the workplace or expectations by their employers.
Those working in occupational health are also noticing a current trend of presenteeism, this results in poor performance and reduced productivity. This is estimated to cause an approximate loss of 6 working weeks per employee per year. This can be quantified as some huge losses depending on the size of the business and its workforce.
Finding a balance on how to deal with illness or injuries amongst your employees can be a challenge – working with your Occupational Health (OH) provider can support you in minimising the impact of employee ill health on your business.