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Absenteeism has long been a pre-existing issue that has afflicted both employers and employees. Unfortunately, some workers find it difficult to come to work when they’re not feeling their best. As a result, this can affect a company’s productivity and morale.

Since 2020, more people have taken time off due to mental health reasons. Many workers have struggled to cope with changes, such as remote working, pay cuts, being furloughed, or increasing workload.

Employees are the backbone of a business, which is why their wellbeing is something you may want to look out for. Besides covering what absenteeism is and its costs, we’ll go over ways you can improve workplace absenteeism!

What is absenteeism in the workplace

Absenteeism is when you take time off work because you’re not feeling well. Some reasons behind it may be due to illness or mental health-related reasons. 

Recently, many have decided not to clock into work due to struggles with their mental health. For example, employees suffering from health-related anxiety may decide not to go to work, for fear of catching or spreading COVID-19.

However, this is just one of many struggles that employees may be struggling with when it comes to absenteeism. Employees can call in sick due to other issues, such as depression, anxiety, grief, stress, or work burnout. 

More often than not, presenteeism goes hand-in-hand with absenteeism. This is why you may find it worthwhile to keep an eye on your employees. You can observe how they are when they come into work, and whether their productivity has been affected.  

Employees aren’t machines, but people who can struggle from time to time. Although everyone has to call in sick every now and then, you might want to consider following up on their absences. Whether because they happen too often or it starts to affect their work.

The cost of absenteeism

There are a few overall costs when employees decide not to show up for work. Similar to the costs of presenteeism, this can include reduced productivity, inefficiency due to understaffing or fatigue, or poor morale in the workplace. 

In 2019, UK workers took an average of 2.90 days off. Well before the pandemic, absenteeism had cost businesses £29 billion each year in the UK. But now, those figures have inevitably increased. During 2020, absenteeism costs have risen by £1.9 billion. UK workers had also taken 3.19 days off for mental health-related problems. 

There are several initiatives employers can start to put into action, however. First of all, creating a supportive environment and work culture is always useful. Rather than letting your employees call in sick one day, you can take the initiative by allowing them a week off. 

Employees may also be suffering from too much stress or burnout. Alternatively, they may not feel comfortable being honest with their managers about what exactly is wrong. But having a good support system in place or a middle man can help. This is why investing in employee wellbeing can help. You can do this by investing in an ESP solution or having a reliable team in HR. 

Everyone needs to call in sick every now and then. But when it comes too often, it’s best to get to the bottom of it. When your employees start to struggle, their symptoms can escalate if left untreated. You might find it beneficial to fully support your employees or giving them some time off! You can also consider having a reliable HR team or improving employee wellbeing.


SupportRoom is here to revolutionise the way we access mental support. Nobody should suffer in silence, and we think that therapy support should be immediate and accessible. Register your interest and connect with a therapist right now. 

Our platform offers patients confidential, professional mental health support for individuals and businesses. We connect you with licensed professionals, who can provide round-the-clock support via multiple formats – such as unlimited messaging or video calls.

We also have an ESP solution that provides detailed analytics to help organisations improve mental health within their workplace, and understand why their employees may suffer from mental health issues. 


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