presenteeism workplace wellness

Mental Health Wellness Issues Affect Presenteeism, Absenteeism — and Translate to Real Costs

Presenteeism — the challenge where employees who are not at their physical or mental healthiest still come to work, but don’t necessarily perform at their fullest capacity — and abstenteeism are two significant business cost drivers that well-run workplace wellness programs are designed to help reduce.

We reported on a study titled “Healthy and productive workers: using intervention mapping to design a workplace health promotion and wellness program to improve presenteeism” that looked at the issue of presenteeism to determine ways to address this improtant workplace issue.

As the study states: “Presenteeism is a growing problem in developed countries mostly due to an aging workforce. The economic costs related to presenteeism exceed those of absenteeism and employer health costs. Employers are implementing workplace health promotion and wellness programs to improve health among workers and reduce presenteeism.” The study sought to “use an intervention mapping approach to develop a workplace health promotion and wellness program aimed at reducing presenteeism.”

Now a new UK-based survey looks at the role of mental health on presenteeism and absenteeism.

The firm Wildgoose conducted a survey of employees from 250 companies across the UK and asked the participants:

  • “Whether they had suffered from a mental health-related issue in the last year”
  • “What they did upon developing mental health symptoms”
  • “What they felt could be improved upon in the workplace regarding supporting those with mental health symptoms”

Of those who hadn’t taken a day off in the last year due to poor mental health, when asked what they thought they would do if were to suffer from mental health symptoms:

  • “62% of employees surveyed said they had taken a day off work in the last year due to anxiety, depression or stress”
  • “Of that 62%, just under half (44%) admitted to calling in sick with a different issue”
  • “43% said they would say nothing and try and carry on as normal, compared with 4% saying they probably would call in sick with a different issue”
  • “Only 15% said they would share the issue with a manager or someone within HR”
  • “Interestingly of everyone surveyed, only 3% of people who had suffered from a mental health-related issue managed to work through it without having to take a day off”

And this translates to real costs.

The analysis adds: “It is imperative that employers address the issue of mental health symptoms within the workplace, particularly as it is estimated that the average cost to a business per employee as a result of absence due to mental health symptoms totals £1,035 per year.”