logo quality color

What are the causes and consequences of absenteeism at work?

Absentéisme au travail

So, what are the main reasons that drive employees of a company to be absent and take a few days of sick leave? The causes are numerous and varied. Absenteeism at work can be caused by professional problems or personal issues. We explain everything in this article.


The 4 main causes of absenteeism at work

Seasonal illnesses, musculoskeletal disorders, poor atmosphere, fatigue, and psychological problems are the main reasons for absenteeism at work. Want to learn more? Quickly read this study conducted by Mensura: Absenteeism in Belgian companies.

Seasonal illnesses

Seasonal illnesses such as colds, gastroenteritis, pharyngitis, or the flu represent one of the primary reasons for absenteeism at work. These viruses are mostly present in winter and can prevent the employee from performing their work properly. Seasonal illnesses obviously have consequences on work absences and lead to short-term sick leaves, i.e., leaves of less than a month.

Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs)

Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) are diseases that affect joints, muscles, and tendons, among them the “ailment of the century”: back pain. MSDs are constantly on the rise. They are a real problem for workers and cost the company a lot. MSDs can have serious consequences on the quality of life of the employee and lead to absenteeism at work. The duration of unavailability varies greatly and is a source of uncertainty for the company.

Poor work atmosphere

A poor work atmosphere can also have serious consequences on absenteeism. It is, in fact, one of the main factors of psychosocial risks. On a company scale, a poor work atmosphere is a factor of demotivation, disengagement, burnout, leading to a high turnover and absenteeism. Consequently, it has direct consequences on employee productivity, causes the loss of talents, and affects the overall performance of the company.

Fatigue or psychological problems

Fatigue and psychological problems also have an impact on work attendance. People who suffer from poor sleep quality are indeed more likely to be absent. Mental health problems at work generate a significant absenteeism rate and more intense personnel turnover. Depression and anxiety are associated with productivity issues, as well as high absenteeism rates.

Homme endormi au travail


The consequences of absenteeism at work

Absenteeism at work obviously has consequences. It disrupts the functioning of the company and constitutes a major source of disorganization for the company.

Among the consequences of absenteeism at work, we can mention:

  • Decreased productivity and company performance
  • General motivation decline
  • Disorganization
  • Workload shift onto other employees

And at your place, what are the main reasons stated by your employees when they don’t come to work?


Interested in delving deeper into the subject? These articles might interest you:

    • 4 ideas to combat absenteeism at work
    • 4 strategies to motivate employees post-COVID
    • Workplace well-being: why and how to cultivate it?