Top 5 reasons for staff absence in 2023

Top 5 reasons for staff absence in 2023

Top 5 reasons for staff absence in 2023

Employee absence has become a significant concern for organisations in recent years, impacting productivity and overall business performance. In 2023, our data shows that the five top reasons for absence were:

  1. Depression
  2. Neurotic, stress-related, and somatoform disorders, phobias, OCD, PTSD
  3. Mental and behavioural disorders
  4. Other disorders of the musculoskeletal system and connective tissue
  5. General unwellness

This article aims to shed light on the top five factors contributing to absenteeism in the workplace by exploring the implications of these reasons on employee wellbeing and work attendance, this article seeks to provide valuable insights for employers and human resources professionals in addressing and mitigating the growing issue of staff absence in 2023.

Understanding the Growing Issue of Staff Absence in 2023

The Significance of Staff Absence in the Workplace

Staff absence is a concern that affects both employers and employees alike. When employees are frequently absent from work, it can disrupt productivity, increase workloads for remaining staff, and ultimately impact the bottom line. In 2023, this issue has become increasingly prevalent, leading employers to delve deeper into the reasons behind these absences.

Overview of the Staff Absence Data in 2023

A recent insight into our data compiled on staff absence in 2023 sheds light on the top reasons for absences. We examined data from various industries and identified five key factors contributing to increased employee absence rates. These factors include depression, neurotic and stress-related disorders, mental and behavioural disorders, musculoskeletal (MSK) issues, and general unwellness. By understanding these reasons, employers can take proactive steps to address and reduce absenteeism in their organisations.

Exploring the Impact of Depression on Staff Absence Rates

Understanding the Prevalence of Depression in the Workforce

Depression is a mental health condition that affects a significant number of people worldwide. In the workforce, the prevalence of depression has been increasing. Factors such as work related stress, long working hours, and the pressure to meet deadlines can contribute to the development of depression among employees.

Examining the Relationship between Depression and Employee Absence

Depression can significantly impact an employee’s ability to perform their job and maintain regular attendance. The symptoms of depression, such as persistent sadness, fatigue, and lack of motivation, can make it challenging for individuals to show up and perform effectively at work. Consequently, employees with depression may take more sick days or mental health days to cope with their condition.

staff absence depression

Unraveling the Link between Neurotic, Stress, and Somatoform Disorders and Employee Absence

Defining Neurotic, Stress, and Somatoform Disorders

Neurotic, stress, and somatoform disorders encompass a range of mental health conditions, including anxiety disorders and somatisation disorders. These disorders can manifest as excessive worry, physical symptoms without a clear medical explanation, and heightened stress responses.

The Psychological Impact of these Disorders on Employees

Employees experiencing neurotic, stress, or somatoform disorders often face significant psychological challenges. Persistent anxiety, panic attacks, and somatic symptoms can make it difficult for individuals to function optimally in the workplace. These conditions can also exacerbate stress levels, leading to increased absenteeism.

Investigating the Connection between Neurotic, Stress, and Somatoform Disorders and Absenteeism

There is a clear correlation between neurotic, stress, and somatoform disorders and employee absenteeism. The chronic and debilitating nature of these conditions can lead employees to take more time off work to manage their symptoms. By recognising the impact of these disorders, employers can implement strategies to support employees and create a work environment conducive to their wellbeing.

The Role of Mental and Behavioural Disorders in Staff Absence Trends

Overview of Common Mental and Behavioural Disorders in the Workplace

Mental and behavioural disorders, such as bipolar disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and substance abuse disorders, can significantly affect staff attendance. These disorders can lead to mood swings, difficulty concentrating, and substance dependency, all of which can interfere with an employee’s ability to consistently show up for work.

Analysing the Impact of Mental and Behavioural Disorders on Absence Rates

Employees with mental and behavioural disorders often face unique challenges that impact their attendance rates. The symptoms and treatment requirements for these conditions can result in increased absences. Employers need to create a supportive workplace culture that promotes understanding and provides resources for employees dealing with these disorders.

Strategies for Supporting Employees with Mental and Behavioural Disorders to Reduce Absenteeism

To reduce absenteeism related to mental and behavioural disorders, employers can implement strategies such as flexible work arrangements, employee assistance programs, and mental health awareness campaigns or training. By providing support and resources, employers can create an environment that encourages employees to seek help and remain engaged in their work despite their conditions.

Remember, while these issues may sound daunting, it’s important to approach them with empathy and a willingness to provide support. By addressing these reasons for staff absence, both employers and employees can work towards creating a healthier and more productive workplace.

staff absence musculoskeletal disorders

Analysing the Influence of Musculoskeletal (MSK) Disorders on Staff Absence Rates

Understanding Musculoskeletal Disorders and their Prevalence

Musculoskeletal disorders, or MSK disorders for short, are a group of disorders affecting bones, joints, muscles, and connective tissue. In this case, we are talking about MSK issues beyond the most common, such as arthritis and osteopathies. Think back pain, sprained ankles, and wrist pain.

Exploring the Impact of MSK Disorders on Employee Absence

MSK disorders can really put a damper on our ability to show up to work and be productive. They can cause pain, stiffness, limited range of motion, and even make it difficult to perform simple tasks like typing on a keyboard or lifting a stapler.

But it’s not just the physical limitations that MSK disorders bring. They can also have a big impact on our mental wellbeing. Dealing with chronic pain day in and day out can lead to frustration, decreased motivation, and even feelings of hopelessness.

General Unwellness and How It Affects the Workplace

Feeling Unwell Without a Diagnosis

Sometimes we feel unwell without a particular illness or virus being responsible. It can be anything as minor as the sniffles to something more major like severe stomach pain or a migraine. However, when it is a one-off instance rather than a chronic condition or a symptom of something else, it can only be classified as general unwellness.

Preventing General Unwellness and Supporting the Employees

These are amongst the least preventable reasons for staff absence, as they are usually unexpected, short-lasting, and can come out of nowhere. The only thing that can help reduce the number of those is keeping the level of wellbeing in your company generally high. Through maintaining their mental and physical health at its best, your employees can protect themselves from unwellness. This could be achieved through healthy eating and regular exercise, getting enough sleep and maintaining proper hydration levels, getting vaccinated, and taking all the appropriate health and safety precautions at work.

When someone is generally unwell, they can benefit from Automatic Care Pathways and EAPs. Those are designed for fast, on the spot support without the waiting times and contain a plethora of useful resources to help your staff get though their illness as quickly as possible.

staff absence general unwellness

Comparative Analysis: Examining the Relative Significance of the five Main Reasons for Staff Absence in 2023

Quantifying the Impact of Depression, Neurotic Disorders, Mental and Behavioural Disorders, and MSK Disorders on Absence Rates

Now that we’ve explored the top five reasons for staff absence in 2023, let’s crunch some numbers and see how they stack up against each other.

Depression, neurotic disorders, and mental and behavioural disorders often steal the spotlight when we think of absenteeism. And rightfully so, as they can have a major impact on employee wellbeing. However, let’s not underestimate the power of MSK disorders and general unwellness. While not as actively discussed currently, they still remain at the centre of many workplace wellbeing policies due to their prevalence and the severity of their impact.

While exact statistics vary, studies have shown that MSK disorders consistently rank among the top reasons for staff absence worldwide. They can account for a significant portion of sick leave days and result in decreased productivity.

While it’s important to address mental health issues and the impact they have on employee wellbeing, it’s also crucial to consider the physical aspects that can keep employees from showing up to work. Remember, a happy and healthy workforce is a productive workforce, whether they’re battling depression or a pesky MSK disorder. Understanding the top reasons for employee absence in 2023 is crucial for organisations to effectively address this issue and promote a healthy and productive work environment. By acknowledging and prioritising mental health, including conditions such as depression and neurotic disorders, as well as providing support for employees with musculoskeletal and not diagnosable issues, employers can make significant strides in reducing absenteeism. Additionally, implementing strategies to support mental and behavioural wellbeing can have a positive impact on overall work attendance. Ultimately, by recognising and addressing these factors, organisations can foster a culture of wellbeing and engagement, leading to enhanced productivity and success in the years to come.


1. Can depression really affect employee absence rates?

Depression is currently the #1 factor contributing to employee absence in 2023. Studies have shown that individuals experiencing depression often struggle with motivation, concentration, and overall wellbeing, which can lead to increased absenteeism. It is essential for employers to recognise the impact of depression on employees’ ability to attend work regularly and implement appropriate support systems.

2. How can employers address mental and behavioural disorders to reduce absenteeism?

Employers can address mental and behavioural disorders by creating a supportive and inclusive work environment. This can include providing access to employee assistance programs, promoting mental health awareness campaigns, and offering resources for counseling or therapy. Additionally, flexible work arrangements and reasonable accommodations can help individuals manage their conditions effectively, reducing the likelihood of absenteeism.

3. Are musculoskeletal disorders a significant contributor to employee absence in 2023?

Yes, musculoskeletal (MSK) disorders play a significant role in employee absence rates. These disorders, affecting the muscles, bones, tendons, ligaments, and other parts of the musculoskeletal system, can cause pain, discomfort, and reduced mobility. Employers can address this issue by implementing ergonomic measures, providing access to physical therapy or rehabilitation services, and promoting proper workplace ergonomics to prevent and manage MSK disorders.

4. What are some strategies for reducing employee absence due to the identified factors?

Strategies for reducing employee absence include promoting a positive work-life balance, fostering a supportive and inclusive workplace culture, providing access to mental health resources and support, for example through an EAP, implementing wellness programs, and offering flexible work arrangements. Regular communication and feedback channels between employees and management can also help identify and address potential issues early, reducing absenteeism related to the identified factors.

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