The cost of being (and not being) at work.

When talking about productivity, wellbeing and mental health in the workplace, there are three words which are seemingly becoming ubiquitous; absenteeism, presenteeism and leavism. We set out to gain a better understanding of the true cost of these phenomena to businesses and to the wider economy and present a brief numerical countdown exploring the issue.



The practice of regularly staying away from work or school without good reason.



The practice of being present at one's place of work for more hours than is required, especially as a manifestation of insecurity about one's job.



A term first coined in 2013 by Dr Ian Hesketh, a researcher at Lancaster University Management School in the UK, to describe the phenomena of employees using flexitime, annual leave, rest days and other leave entitlement schemes to have time off when they are in fact too unwell to go to work. He later extended this to include occasions whereby employees took work home and/or on holiday that they could not complete in paid working hours.

The Figures


At On:song we are dedicated to raising the profile of wellbeing in the workplace, and creating healthy and supportive work environments.  We run choirs for workplaces, focusing on improving employee wellbeing and mental health at work with our app-supported weekly singing programs.

George Bell