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    The State of Absence Report 2023

    The State of Absence Report

    What is the current state of workplace absence, and what can organisations do to address it?

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    Press release: Small businesses suffer most furlough stress

    15 December 2020 3 min read

    Stressed employee
    • 2020 data indicate workplace stress peaked as employees returned from furlough
    • Small businesses experienced the highest peaks with 4% of employees taking stress-related leave in October compared to 1.7% in larger organisations
    • Edays warns businesses to prepare for Spring Stress Spike when furlough ends

    Nottingham, UK. 15th December: Edays, the absence intelligence company, says data from 86,000 recorded UK absences has revealed that stress levels have spiked twice in 2020 following the changes to the furlough schemes. These peaks were especially noticeable in organisations with fewer than 250 employees as the effects of the pandemic proved more challenging for small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs).

    In April this year when 42% of the workforce at companies with fewer than 250 employees were furloughed, only 0.85% of leave was stress-related in companies of this size – the lowest figure of the year. However, in July and August, just as the government job retention scheme was updated to allow a more flexible return to work for an increased proportion of the workforce and furlough uptake figures reduced, stress-related absence figures in SMEs grew to 3.4% and 3.2% respectively.

    The trend carries through to October when, prior to the announcement of a second nationwide lockdown, the furlough scheme was due to end. It was during this month when uncertainty around the future of many roles within SMEs especially was at a high, that stress-related absence hit its highest peak of 4.3%. This figure is made all the more stark when compared to the fact that stress-related absences in organisations with 250+ employees dropped to 1.7% – the lowest since the pandemic began.

    Meanwhile, March this year recorded the highest levels of sickness, compared to data from 2019 which showed January as the highest rates for sickness.

    “Businesses need to prepare for a spring stress spike, whereby a number of factors are looking to combine to create the perfect storm for SMEs,” comments CEO of Edays, Steve Arnold. “Employees returning from furlough, the promise of a springtime vaccine and related appointments, the possibility of reduced rules and a return to normal sickness levels, and the rush to book holidays – this could cause the most dramatic absence management challenge of the pandemic so far. As we approach the end of 2020 it would be wise to review patterns from the year and use them to plan for the year ahead, to ensure absence management strategies are in place to manage shortages in resourcing, as well as wellbeing and productivity among staff.”

    About Edays

    Founded by CEO Steve Arnold and CTO Chris Moseley, Edays is an award-winning, cloud-based absence management system that makes holiday and absence tracking easy and accurate for organisations of all sizes, anywhere in the world. Edays delivers for more than 1,500 customers across 120 countries, including brands such as Canon, ASOS, AXA, Monster Energy, Barclays, and Sony.

    The Edays mission is to provide organisations with a global solution that saves time and money associated with processing employee absence. The company enables its customers to achieve better resourcing insight for planning purposes, and also plays a key role in helping organisations to improve employee wellbeing – both for the good of the employee and for the wider health implications this has on organisational success.


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    Harry Customer Success Manager at edays
    December 15, 2020

    Harry is Head of Customer Success here at edays, helping organisations to get the very best out of their edays system. His experience in SaaS and HR brings valuable insight into how organisations can better manage their people, processes and productivity.