4 Surprising Ways COVID-19 Contributes to Employee Absenteeism

Posted on

April 13th, 2021


COVID-19 has put employees under more stress than ever, and it’s manifesting in several unpleasant ways in the workplace. While businesses can expect employees to call out for the occasional illness, skyrocketing absenteeism isn’t something companies prepare for or want. If employers notice a sudden surge in absenteeism, COVID-19 may be a contributing factor in unexpected ways.

Beyond the obvious of contracting the virus, the following details how COVID-19 contributes to absenteeism:

  1. Anxiety and depression. Prior to the pandemic, a national health survey asked adults about their anxiety and/or depression symptoms. From January to June of 2019, around 10% of respondents reported that they suffered from anxiety, depression, or both. This number shot up by January of 2021 to just over 40%. Unchecked mental health problems have a strong correlation with absenteeism.
  2. Not enough sleep. Over one-third (36%) of adults reported difficulties sleeping during the pandemic. Poor quality of sleep or insufficient sleep hinders productivity and can contribute to employee burnout. Chronically tired employees may begin to arrive late or call out altogether.
  3. Poor nutrition. Employees are shouldering significant burdens because of COVID-19. Some may be struggling with income insecurity, fears for at-risk family members, or difficulties obtaining childcare. The pressure of these situations can lead to poor nutrition, as evidenced by 32% of adults that reported difficulties eating. While diet may not have an immediate effect on employee attendance, it can influence their health. Insufficient nutrition can contribute to fatigue, stress, and loss of productivity. It also lowers the immune system, which makes employees more susceptible to illnesses.
  4. Worsening chronic health conditions. Individuals with chronic conditions likely had their health under control or were taking steps to do so before the pandemic. Unfortunately, many of those conditions are noted as high-risk for developing severe cases of COVID-19. Isolation also wreaks havoc on certain long-term health conditions, such as anxiety or depression. With 12% of adults reporting worsening chronic health conditions, employers may begin to see a corresponding rise in absenteeism.

Employees’ mental health and wellbeing are critical components to sustaining a productive workforce. If your business is struggling with absenteeism, Actec can help. Contact our team of experts to learn about our absence management solutions.