Surging workplace absences in the U.K. reveal that there is a need for businesses to address rising stress and mental health challenges in the workforce. According to a recent report by The Chartered Institute for Professional Development (CIPD) and Simplyhealth, workplace absences in the U.K. have reached their highest levels in over a decade.
The study’s results, as featured in The Independent, analyzed sickness absence and employee health across 918 organizations representing 6.5 million employees. The study found that staff were absent for an average of 7.8 days in the past year. This is a significant increase from the pre-pandemic rate of 5.8 days.
Stress has emerged as a major contributing factor, with 76% of respondents attributing their time off to it. Poor mental health and minor illnesses were also cited as the top reasons for long-term and short-term absences, at 63% and 94%, respectively. Additionally, 37% of organizations reported that COVID-19 remains a significant cause of short-term absence.
The rise in workplace absences, particularly those related to stress and mental health, reflects a workforce grappling with unprecedented challenges. The data points to external factors like the pandemic and economic pressures that are impacting employee well-being. As Rachel Suff, senior employee wellbeing adviser at the CIPD, stated, there’s a need for a “more systematic and preventative approach to workplace health.”
Workplace wellness data reveals the importance of businesses creating a supportive work environment. While 53% of organizations now have a stand-alone well-being strategy, up from 50% the previous year, there’s still room for improvement.
Both CIPD and Simplyhealth are asking more organizations to create open communication channels where employees can discuss health concerns with their managers, according to The Independent. Both organizations are also advocating for flexible working options and accessible health services.
As employee demands and expectations evolve, so too must the approach to employee health and well-being. The rising trend in workplace absences serves as a clarion call for businesses to prioritize employee health, not just for the benefit of their staff, but for the broader economy and societal wellbeing.