Depression and Absenteeism: $23 Billion in Lost Productivity for U.S Employers

Gallup recently conducted a two-year study (2011-2012) surveying 237,615 full-time employees and 66,010 part-time employees.

Key findings and takeaways for the 2011-2012 study period:

1. Full-time workers diagnosed with depression missed work an estimated 8.7 days per year, which were 4.3 more days than full-time workers without depression.

2. Part-time workers diagnosed with depression missed work an estimated 13.7 days per year, which were 5.0 more days than part-time workers without depression.

3. Workers diagnosed with depression miss an estimated 68 million additional days of work each year compared to workers without depression.

4. An estimated $23 Billion in lost productivity annually accrued to U.S. employers. (Note: Other economic costs associated with depression but not analyzed for this study: productivity loss while on the job, healthcare utilization, workers’ compensation, turnover, etc.)

5. Employers should engage employees with depression or depressive symptoms “through the fulfillment of certain critical psychological needs in the workplace”. (Read Gallup’s recommendations for employee engagement insights for U.S. business leaders.)

As of June 25, 2013, 12% of all U.S. workers on average have been diagnosed with depression at some point in their lifetime, with 6.1% of all U.S. workers currently being treated for depression.

Gallup based these findings on the U.S. Well-Being Index (Gallup-Healthways) – a daily assessment of six categories of well-being: life evaluation; emotional health; physical health; healthy behaviors; work environment; and basic access. Gallup interviews at least 500 U.S. adults each day.

For 2012, the top 5 states with the highest well-being scores were: (1) Hawaii; (2) Connecticut; (3) Minnesota; (4) Utah; (5) Vermont. The state with the lowest ranking of well-being in 2012 was West Virginia.

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