Stress main cause of short-term absence, survey claims

Stress-inducing situations are one of the biggest reasons for why employees are unable to go to work, according to research.

A survey of 500 HRs by Group Risk Development (GRiD) found stress and stress-inducing situations as the main reason for short-term absences of up to 26 weeks. The research also found more than a quarter (27%) of HRs believe work-related stress contributes to a higher-than-average absence rate in their organisation.

Dealing with staff shortages (29%), poor work/life balance (20%) and low morale (19%) were also given as reasons for high staff absences.

Importance of health and wellbeing initiatives

However, the research also showed employers also recognise the extent to which health & wellbeing initiatives and group protection can support better attendance.

One in five (22%) said that not having health and wellbeing initiatives in place was the reason for having worse absence than others in their industry, and 14 per cent said not having income protection in place was a reason for worse absence.

And the research shows companies that believe their absence is lower than others in their industry point to offering support for stress.

Those that believe their absence is lower than others said this is because they had good staff morale (57%), good work/life balance (50%) and offer flexible working initiatives (34%). All things that contribute to reduced stress.

“The figures show that stress is not something that individuals deal with in isolation, it is a key reason for absence and has a major impact on employers,” said GRiD spokesperson, Katharine Moxham.

“We’re pleased to see that employers recognise that not having income protection in place also contributes to higher absence. Group income protection does so much more than simply provide financial support when people are unable to work. Providers recognise that stress is a big issue, and specifically offer a lot of support for stress within their products, such as fast-track access to counselling, access to mental health specialists, support tailored for carers, and much more,” she added.

“When stress is an issue for employees, it’s an issue for employers too. Poor absence means poor productivity. The support is there and we want people to know about it and use it.”