Mental Wellbeing

Burnout & Absenteeism: Why It's Costing Your Business

13 June 2023

It’s International Men’s Health Week (MHW), and the week-long campaign aims to increase awareness of preventable male health problems, support men and boys to make healthier lifestyle choices and encourage males to be proactive and aid early detection of illness.

Whilst this article focuses on burnout and absenteeism across the board, we’ll start by recognising why the work of MHW is so essential.

The Occupational Medicine publication on the relationship between gender, age, and burnout is an interesting read. The findings suggest that reports of burnout were higher in women than men, and burnout decreased as men got older.

One reason for this is that as people progress through their careers, they can better manage work expectations and stress. There’s also a link to family life and working parents’ risk of burnout decreases as their children become older, thus reducing the juggle and tiredness that come with parenting younger children.

The results with women were slightly different. As with the men, those in the 20 – 35 age group were at a higher risk of burnout, but with the female respondents, that risk returned for ages 55 and over.

Research from our latest eBook, The Mountain of Lost Benefits: Closing the Expectation Gap, found that 52% of our HR respondents in the 18 - 24 age range ranked mental health as the highest must-have benefit. This result is unsurprising because this group falls into the age range most at risk of burnout.

Burnout costs UK businesses an estimated *£26 billion each year. This figure comprises the costs of absenteeism, reduced productivity due to presenteeism, and the cost of replacing employees who resign due to burnout.

We shared the five stages of burnout here, highlighting that stage five, habitual burnout, is where burnout will affect most aspects of your life, and you’ll likely suffer from chronic fatigue, poor mood and anxiety.

Stress and Anxiety: In January, we wrote about Blue Monday and mental resilience, sharing figures published by the HSE from 2020-21, showing that out of the 1.7 million people reported to be suffering from a work-related illness, 822,000 (48%) cited work-related stress and anxiety as the cause.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS): According to the NHS, symptoms of CFS include constant tiredness that makes it hard to do regular daily activities and problems with thinking, memory, and concentration.

This description explains why employees suffering from burnout take sickness absence to recover – they’re simply physically and mentally incapable of working. Additionally, CFS can lead to some people experiencing headaches, flu-like symptoms and trouble sleeping.

There’s currently no cure for CFS. There are treatments available, but those suffering from CFS are more likely to adapt and live with it than return to full health. In some cases, adjusting to life with CFS can mean changing roles or professions, contributing to the costs associated with replacing employees.
Burnout isn’t the only cause of CFS, but it’s one that’s preventable.

We’ve developed an Employee Burnout Cheat Sheet to help employers assess, prevent and reduce burnout. It’s a practical and effective resource that managers can work through with their teams, forming an essential component to preventing burnout: effective leadership.

Employees who feel unsupported by their managers are 70% more likely to experience burnout. (Business Health Institute)


Having open and honest conversations with managers is critical to preventing burnout. Burnout is caused by prolonged periods of excessive workplace stress, so it’s vital for employees to be able to communicate when their working environment becomes too stressful.

Once made aware, managers must take steps to reduce workplace stress, ensuring employees are supported to prevent the onset of burnout.

Part of being an effective leader is putting the right support tools in place and helping to boost your employees' mental resilience.

Our research published in The Mountain of Lost Benefits: Closing the Expectation Gap found that 22% of our female employee respondents said mental health support systems are a “must-have”, as opposed to 17% of our male employee respondents.

Women are also at a higher risk of burnout and more likely to talk about their mental wellbeing than men, so it doesn’t come as a shock that more female respondents consider it a non-negotiable employee benefit.

However, research also suggests that only 2% of employees feel comfortable speaking with their employees about their mental health. Given the financial risk to businesses when employees reach a point of occupational burnout, investment in mental health support for employees is essential.

Our Employee Assistance Programme gives employees access to BCAP-accredited counsellors face-to-face, by phone and email, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and includes an online counselling, live chat facility for those who aren’t comfortable picking up the phone.

It’s also home to essential wellbeing resources designed to help employees help themselves. A ‘My Possible Self’ account is included, making lifestyle-tracking solutions, tailored content and crisis support available at the touch of a button.


In our eBook, The Mountain of Lost Benefits: Making Benefits Matter, we highlighted the importance of effective communication. You can offer your employees every benefit available, but if they don’t know what’s being provided, they won’t use them. In fact, only 11% of employee respondents said they make full use of their workplace benefits.

Here are a few statistics from our eBook:

Over a quarter (28%) of our employee respondents said that their organisation doesn’t offer any benefits or that they don’t know if their organisation offered any benefits, with 12% saying they don’t know how to access the benefits that are on offer at all.

Regular communication is essential, as is communicating in the best way, and our research found that almost half (47%) of employees would prefer to learn about their benefits provision via email.

Employee benefits are an investment, but a return isn’t guaranteed unless employees are engaged with them. This is as true of mental wellbeing benefits as it is of salary-stretching financial wellbeing benefits.

Here at Pluxee, our dedicated account managers work with your business to boost the uptake of your benefits package, providing information on how to get things off to the best start, as well as offering support along the way.

When it comes to employee wellbeing, we also provide free resources to help you on your journey.

Arrange a call to discover how to reduce employee burnout and absenteeism in your business.


Occupational Medicine

British Medical Bulletin

Men’s Health Forum in Ireland

*Open Access Government

Business Health Institute