Absenteeism and stress loads up as recession hits work-life balance

Absenteeism has nearly doubled with the onset of the recession, as employees are faced with an increase in workload and stress.

A survey by the research organisation Work Life Balance Centre and Coventry University has exposed senior managers as the most prolific absentees, with the average employee at this level taking 11.4 days off per year. The Worklife Balance Survey of 1,900 employees, conducted between October 2008 and January 2009, found the average worker missed nine days a year in the year to January 2009 – up from the five days recorded in the previous year.

The national absence average is eight days per year, according to the latest Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development research.

The public sector was also disproportionately hit, with civil servants taking 9.6 days off compared to 7.9 days in the private sector and only 4.7 days in the voluntary sector.

Absence was highest in further education (14.1 days), closely followed by banking and finance (12 days) and central government and civil service jobs (10.2 days).

The rise in absenteeism coincided with an increase in the number of people feeling stressed at work, with 58% of the days lost being attributed to stress-related factors.

The survey also found that 62% of employees felt their work load has increased in the past year (up 55% from the year before) while almost a third felt ‘out of control’ in their jobs.

A spokesman said: “The survey shows there has been an increase in extra hours being worked, and a greater proportion of people reporting problems with getting a work/life balance.”

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