New research from the Conference Board of Canada’s Workplace Mental Health Research Centre, examining the links between attendance decisions and mental health (the report is entitled What Are the Links Between Attendance Decisions and Mental Health), shows that organizational policies can have unintended results “and create intriguing conundrums,” say the report’s authors.

“Organizations that understand this reality and ensure their policies are evidence-based, integrated and more intentional will reap the benefits of having a healthier, happier and more productive workforce,” they state. “Our research shows that having more paid time off is linked to increased employee psychological safety, better self-rated job performance and reduced stress. Employees who receive fewer paid days off have higher absenteeism and presenteeism.” 

Despite this, they say 82 per cent of organizations aren’t monitoring absenteeism by work arrangements. If they were, they might find similar results to the research findings which suggest that “employees working fully on-site have higher overall absences than workers in hybrid settings, and higher absenteeism and presenteeism due to physical health reasons than employees working in a hybrid model or remotely. Employees who work fully on-site are more likely to work despite feeling mentally unwell than employees who work fully remotely.” 

The researchers then suggest ways of developing equitable policies, advocate for the use of employee surveys and suggest collecting information that will elicit more nuanced data on employee engagement. In particular, they suggest companies also re-evaluate policies on paid time off. “Give specific attention to employees at lower income levels, essential workers, those with care responsibilities outside of work, and those with prior disability leaves,” they write.


Experts say employees ignore mental health for work more often than not