Workplace absenteeism is falling, but worker stress is on the rise
The average absenteeism rate in the Netherlands saw a slight drop in August. However, there is a growing concern about long-term absenteeism due to stress-related complaints. These insights come from the latest data provided by occupational health and safety services arboNed and HumanCapitalCare.
In August, the absenteeism rate in the Netherlands dropped to 4.0 percent, a slight decrease from 4.1 percent the previous month. This represents a near 1.0 percent decrease since March.
“Despite this decline, the figures do not only give reason for optimism,” the two organizations warned. From July 2022 to June 2023, there was an 8.4 percent increase in long-term absenteeism from stress-related issues.
Stress-induced complaints such as worry, lethargy, and tension account for a quarter of all absentee days. These complaints are the primary reason for absenteeism among women and workers aged 25 to 45.
While stress often results in absenteeism, in 40 percent of such cases, company doctors trace the root cause to factors outside the workplace. Events in one's personal life, like caregiving, divorce, or financial strains, can have repercussions at work.
Jurriaan Penders, a company doctor and director of medical affairs at HumanCapitalCare, explained that work and personal life are deeply interconnected. "Imagine filling a backpack with concerns from both your work and personal life. Eventually, it can become too full due to worries, stress, and other things that cost energy. The backpack does not differentiate between work-related worries or other sources. Once it's too full, you're unable to recharge and recover. And then you fall over,” he observed.
The impact of absenteeism is significant for all parties involved. On average, a day of absence costs employers 315 euros. Additionally, colleagues covering for absentees often face added stress.
“The best thing to do is to recognize stress and make it a topic of discussion, even if work is not the cause. In that case, you can look for a solution together,” Penders concluded.