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Absenteeism falls – as stress and presenteeism rise

Employees were absent an average of 6.8 days per employee this year, down from 7.7 days last year, according to the Simplyhealth Absence Management survey from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD).

The professional body welcomed the drop, but warned employers to watch their employees for signs of increasing levels of stress, mental ill health and presenteeism – where employees go into work when unwell.

“It’s fair to say that the double dip recession is having an impact on business health as well as employee wellbeing, with this year’s survey showing a clear rise in presenteeism,” said Helen Dickinson, People Director, Simplyhealth. “The link between presenteeism and job insecurity is unsurprising. Increasing workloads coupled with worries about job security and financial challenges could be a contributory factor to stress and mental health issues being highlighted as two of the most common causes of long term absence in the workplace.”

According to the survey, organisations who have noted an increase in presenteeism over the past year are more likely to report an increase in stress-related absence over the same period (52% compared with 38% of those who did not report an increase in people coming in to work ill).

Similarly, they are more likely to report an increase in mental health problems, such as anxiety and depression (62% compared with 35% of those who did not report an increase in people coming into work ill).

The suggested link between presenteeism and both stress and mental health problems underlines the need for organisations to take pre-emptive action to address employees’ concerns in times of challenge, uncertainty and change, said the CIPD.

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