Monday 20 January or ‘Blue Monday is reportedly the most depressing day of the year; with the long dark days, arrival of credit card bills and post-Christmas blues all said to be contributing factors.
It serves as a positive reminder for employers to think about reducing employee absenteeism this year and tackling mental health issues.
One of the most common calls we receive from our clients relates to absence, it is particularly prominent this time of the year. Blue Monday may not be based on scientific fact, even though it is claimed that scientists have established a formula for it! However, it increases awareness of mental health issues, which can only be a good thing. It encourages employers to think about how they can reduce absence levels by understanding why people are taking time off sick. They can then offer support where needed, which can help improve productivity, reduce absences and save money in the long run.
The Centre of Economic and Business Research suggests that workplace absence costs the UK economy £18bn in lost productivity, and it is set to rise to £21bn in 2020 and £26bn in 2030. A rise in mental health issues is a major contributor to this increase.
On average, employees suffering from a mental health-related illness will take eight days leave, with 44% taking more than 10 days.
A 2019 Business in the Community report highlighted that 39% of employees have experienced poor mental health due to work in the past year and 30% of the workforce has been formally diagnosed with a mental health issue. The most common diagnosis was depression or general anxiety.
As an employer it is important to keep on top of absences. They should be recorded and monitored to help highlight patterns. However, tackling the root causes should be a priority.
Investing in absence management training can assist managers in knowing how to analyse attendance patterns and identify underlying causes of absence.