Freephone  0800 988 0085

The cost of Presenteeism - Bupa Report

The number of people suffering from mental health issues at work could be more than you think, and the cost to your clients and their businesses can be significant¹. Mental health problems can include stress, anxiety and depression, and with one in four people in the UK experiencing a mental health problem each year², it is likely to affect most businesses.

Mental health issues are amongst the most common causes of long-term absence³, so it’s understandable that employers put a lot of focus on absenteeism. But often, by the time the employee has been signed off by the doctor, it’s out of the employer’s hands and there is little they can do to rectify the situation.

Despite absenteeism being a major problem, it’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the overall picture. A government report on mental health in the workplace published in 2012, states absenteeism as costing UK employers £8.4 billion a year4. Presenteeism however costs UK employers £15.1 billion a year4 – almost double.

What is presenteeism?

Presenteeism refers to people who are unwell but come into work regardless, often suffering in silence while their symptoms are ignored5. There could be many reasons why an employee attends work in this situation, such as belief that no one else could do the job, or workplace pressures6. But presenteeism can have a negative impact on your organisation.

Bupa’s Organisational Psychologist, Stuart Haydock explains, “When an employee is ill but still reports for duty, the effects could include de-motivation and a decrease in productivity. Therefore, it’s vital for employers to take a proactive approach to their employees’ wellbeing and nip potential problems in the bud. If no specific training or support is in place, line managers are usually reliant on their own judgment. But by having clear and effective guidance and policies in place, potential problems are spotted early. This reduces the human cost of mental illness within the workplace, and can produce positive results in terms of productivity.”


Bupa Boost
Bupa Boost is our new mobile innovation designed to help engage employees in their own health and wellbeing. Based around four core pillars of fitness, nutrition, mindfulness and relaxation, Bupa Boost allows employees to set health and wellbeing goals to suit their lifestyles. Boost is available to the whole workforce and aims to encourage your clients’ employees to set goals which could help them relax and de-stress. Boost is currently being rolled out to corporate clients. To find out more, contact your account manager or

Mindfulness may be another way that employers can help their employees if they are suffering from an issue such as stress. Mindfulness is a mind-body based training technique that uses meditation, breathing and yoga techniques to help employees focus their thoughts and feelings. Practising mindfulness can give people more insight into their emotions, boost their attention and concentration and improve relationships, as well as helping with stress, anxiety and depression7. These benefits can also be shared with their family, which has a positive knock-on effect for their home and work-life balance. Find out more about mindfulness here.

The financial costs of absenteeism and presenteeism are well documented, and solutions such as Boost and mindfulness could help towards the issue in your and your clients’ organisations.

Request a call back

2 + 6 =

Request a quotation

4 + 3 =