Absenteeism, often a symptom of underlying mental health issues, is on the rise, costing businesses billions worldwide. According to a recent survey, UK absences are at their highest level in a decade, with 4.8 days lost per employee per year, with mental health in the workplace being the most significant issue.

But what if we viewed this challenge as not a burden but an opportunity? What if, by prioritising mental health initiatives, we could transform our workplaces into environments that offer support whilst building resilience? Onebright explores ways that businesses can help manage absenteeism.

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The hidden cost of absenteeism

Missed workdays from employees are an inevitable part of running a business. People get sick and need time to recover. However, for some, missed workdays are a result of something deeper. Consider this: every missed day at work due to mental health concerns represents not just a loss of productivity but can also be a sign of an overwhelmed employee. Behind the statistics lies a human story. As business leaders, it is essential to pay attention to anyone who seems to be absent regularly and take some time to discover what help and support they need. 

Recognising the signs

Employees experiencing high-stress levels are more likely to take time off work due to illness or burnout. Moreover, untreated mental health conditions can escalate, leading to long-term absences and decreased job satisfaction. Recognising these challenges, forward-thinking companies prioritise mental health initiatives as part of their broader wellness strategies. What signs should they look out for?

  • Increased absenteeism or frequent tardiness without valid explanations.
  • Declines in work performance, such as missed deadlines, decreased productivity, or errors.
  • Changes in behaviour, such as irritability, mood swings, or withdrawal from social interactions.
  • Physical symptoms like headaches, fatigue, or digestive issues without apparent medical cause.
  • Difficulty concentrating, making decisions, or remembering tasks.
  • Expressions of hopelessness, excessive worry, or talking about feeling overwhelmed.

If managers and business owners identify employees exhibiting these signs, swift and proactive action is needed. What can they do?

Investing in wellness

The first step would be to compassionately approach the employee and offer a listening ear. Once you discover what help they need, you will be in a better position to offer help and support. What support is available?

Investing in wellness includes incorporating mental health initiatives such as:

  • Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs)
  • Mental health training
  • Flexible work arrangements
  • Wellness programs
  • Open communication channels

These initiatives benefit employees and yield tangible returns for businesses. Organisations prioritising employee well-being are more likely to retain their employees. Employees who feel cared for will more likely work hard and seek help when needed, confident that they will be heard and supported.

Onebright’s solutions

Mental health audits

Onebright offers support to businesses and those experiencing mental health difficulties. One such service is mental health auditing. What does this audit include? Organisational audits provide a customised workforce survey and review, ranging from a quick temperature check of organisational wellbeing to a detailed screening of current staff mental health.

A mental health consultant uses clinical best practices to pinpoint organisational areas that may hinder job performance. 

Employee mental health requirements continue to shift, so evaluating where the gaps exist now in terms of mental health training, diagnosis and treatment for conditions, and the use of data to measure workplace success can help leaders prepare and make informed decisions about their workforce’s needs.

Other services

Onebright offers a variety of other support for individuals which includes:

  • CBT 
  • Online therapy
  • Counselling
  • EMDR 
  • Psychotherapy

Ultimately, addressing absenteeism through corporate mental health initiatives is an ethical responsibility when it comes to mental health in the workplace. To learn more or use one of Onebright’s services, please visit

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