Is excessive absence a result of a toxic work environment? | Moorepay
February 28, 2023

Is excessive absence a result of a toxic work environment?

stressed staff member massaging her temple

According to a recent work survey completed by the Charted Institute of Personal Development over 55% of surveyed employees have taken time off work due to either depression, stress, or mental health reasons. This type of absenteeism is costing the UK economy 56 billion pounds each year. 

A main contributing factor to this level of absence has been employees working in what is described as a toxic work environment. In 2022 this manifested itself in three main ways:

Burnt Out

What is burn out?  Anyone who considers themselves over worked and stressed – mainly this manifests itself into flu like symptoms. According to Mental Health UK common signs include;

  • Feeling tired or drained
  • Feeling helpless, trapped and/or defeated
  • Having a cynical/negative outlook
  • Self-doubt
  • Feeling overwhelmed

If your worker is taking more and more time off, they could have a mental health issue they’re not telling you about. They might worry you won’t understand, or that it will affect job stability and promotions.

That’s why you need to be open about mental health in your workplace as much as possible. By being a wellbeing champion for your staff, you’ll help them feel more comfortable having those tough conversations.

Read: Eight ways managers can support their employees’ mental health | Moorepay

Unhappy with the job

Most organisations don’t know how to manage this kind of absence. Any employee who feels unhappy with their job can have a negative effect on the whole workplace. Identifying this early is in the best interests of the organisation. You can do this by asking for feedback, having regular performance and welfare meetings with a manager and the organisation running staff wellbeing surveys etc. All can identify potential employee morale issues. 

Don’t like the company culture

According to research, a toxic work environment is a major contributor to employee absenteeism in the UK. The study mentioned above conducted by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development found that workplace stress and mental health problems account for nearly a third of all absences in the country, with an average of 6.9 days lost per employee per year. Furthermore, the same study found that 22% of employees cited their work environment as the main cause of stress. These figures highlight the significant impact that a toxic work environment can have on employee wellbeing and the bottom line of businesses.

Employers who fail to address issues such as bullying, harassment, and excessive workload risk losing talented employees and facing increased absenteeism, reduced productivity, and a negative impact on their reputation. It’s crucial for companies to prioritise creating a healthy and positive work environment to ensure the wellbeing of their employees and the success of their business.

Watch our free webinar on building a company culture that excites employees

Next Steps

What to do next? Have robust policies that cover absence, stress management, inclusion, and diversity. Create an open and transparent work environment, that focuses on feedback to management, hold regular 121 sessions and engagement surveys with employees and managers, analyse the results and act on these accordingly. Have accountability for any breaches in these policies and tackle negative behaviour that is affecting employee morale. 

For more information contact the policy team at Moorepay

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Stephen Johnson
About the author

Stephen Johnson

Stephen has over 25 years experience in private sector HR and management roles, working as a Manager for over 10 years and eventually moving into the financial services industry. In his current role as an HR Policy Review Consultant he develops, reviews and maintains our clients’ employment documentation. With extensive knowledge of management initiatives and HR disciplines Stephen is commercially focused and supports clients in delivering their business objectives whilst minimising the risk of litigation.

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