From 2010 to 2019, the annual number of sick days averaged between 6.2 and 7.2 days. According to statistics from the Bundesamts für Statistik (BFS), the situation changed significantly in 2022.
Compared to the years 2020 and 2021, which were dominated by the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of sick days increased by 20%. Compared to the time before the pandemic, there was even a 34% increase in illness-related absences. In the years 2020 (8.1 sick days) and 2021 (7.5%), there were fewer absences recorded as part of labor force surveys than in 2022. This increase affected employees from various sectors and backgrounds.
The BFS did not identify exact reasons for these increased absences. However, insurance companies such as Axa noted a noticeable increase in short-term absences and suspect that the perception of illness, especially regarding COVID-19, may have led to a more cautious attitude.
A health study conducted by CSS (Sept. 23) reveals particularly concerning results regarding the mental health of young adults. While only 8% of those over 65 reported being absent from work due to mental issues, this figure stood at 44% among individuals aged 18 to 35. More than half of this age group perceives their professional life as a source of unhealthy stress.
Our perspective on the topic
We have had very good experiences with our resilience programs to minimize absenteeism. Here are some topics we cover that which you should also consider in your company if you have high absenteeism:
Our experiences from our resilience programs highlight the importance of recognizing and effectively managing stress situations, especially for younger target groups. Strengthening self-efficacy and one’s own resources is crucial in minimizing illness-related absences. Also to exchange with peers is elementary, so that one does not feel alone with this topic:
«My self-confidence has at least doubled. Such changes mean a lot to me and I am proud of myself. In the future I will spend more time with myself. It was amazing to see that I am not the only person who faces problems and challenges. I know many friends who could have used a course like this. It’s a pity that such things were never discussed in school.» (Participant from the program)
Here are a few questions which individuals, teams and organizations should ask themselves:
- How do I react to stressful or challenging situations?
- What coping strategies have I used in the past, and how effective were they?
- Which triggers or stress factors are particularly burdensome for me?
- How well can I adapt to changes and uncertainties? How can we respond to them as a team and organization?
- Which thoughts and beliefs positively or negatively influence my resilience and that of my team?
- What is my self-perception regarding my strengths and weaknesses?
- In which areas of my life do I feel most resilient, and why?
- What social support systems do I have, and how do I utilize them in times of stress?
- What health habits do I maintain to enhance my physical and emotional resilience?
- What goals do I or my organisation have for improving the resilience, and what steps can and what steps can be taken to achieve them?
We specialize in the development of younger target groups and maintain a close connection with them, which provides us with a deep understanding. In our programs, we create space to talk about such issues so that individuals, teams and organizations can develop further. In our eyes, these topics are still stigmatized too much.
Our findings demonstrate that involving external experts often leads to employees being more open in many cases. This increases the likelihood of identifying and ideally eliminating significant causes of illness-related absences.
It is crucial to emphasize that despite the involvement of external experts in the context of absenteeism management, leadership responsibility still remains within the company.