Doomsday, a Newly Crowned Monarch, Snoop Dogg, and Barbenheimer: BrightHR Reveal the Staff Absence Trends That Took the UK by Storm in 2023

MANCHESTER, England–(BUSINESS WIRE)–What do doomsday, a newly crowned monarch, Snoop Dogg, and Barbenheimer all have in common? They’re some of the headline events of 2023 that saw bouts of unplanned absence, lateness, and sickness sweep the nations’ workplaces. And from these findings, comes a number of lessons for business owners.

HR technology firm BrightHR delved into their software usage to see how the year’s events and trends impacted 100,000+ businesses and their 1.3 million employees.

Alan Price, CEO at BrightHR, comments on the key results:

Crunching the 2023 data we have gained valuable insights into the absence and tardiness habits of the nation.

“In a trend lingering from 2022, train strikes continue to derail commuters’ punctuality with numerous cancellations and delays throughout the year. In fact, we’ve seen cases of lateness surge by 76% since 2021. So not only are trains operating to a different schedule, employees are too! In fact, the only thing that’s on time is the ensuing frustration.

“And that’s not the only reason staff were tardy in 2023. We weathered a number of storms, but Storm Debi, which hit the UK on Friday 13 November, made your employees an average of 35 minutes late.

“On the other hand, looking back to September, we enjoyed the joint hottest on record, with September 4th – 7th breaking records for the most consecutive days with temperatures of over 30c. The balmy weather must have put employees in the mood for tropical climes, as annual leave requests submitted on Monday 4 September surged, much like the mercury, by 48%.

“Of course, 2023 was another mammoth year for sports and saw England’s women’s team reach the final of the FIFA Women’s World Cup on Sunday 20 August, pitched against Spain. We may not have brought it home, but it’s where many employees stayed the following day as there was a 48% uptick in annual leave taken. Whether this shows forward-thinking football fanatics were planning on celebrating long into the night, or commiserating and drowning their sorrows, is unknown…

“Another stand-out discovery we made when delving into absence stats on our software is that 88 people called in sick with food poisoning after a wedding, giving ‘in sickness and in health’ a whole new meaning. Illness and nuptials are perhaps not the match made in heaven wedding-attending employees were expecting. We’re not sure what wedding caterers have to say about this one…

“Now less about the love bug, and more about the royal bug… King Charles III was coronated and the UK received an extra bank holiday on Monday 8 May. Sickness rates reached a real high(ness) the following Tuesday with 54% more people off than on an average Tuesday. Imperial illness, or just an excuse for an extra-long weekend?

“Barbenheimer was the crossover no one saw coming yet was on everyone’s lips on Friday 21 July. A blockbusting 70,198 employees took the day off to catch the premiere of Barbie, Oppenheimer, or for the real cinephiles, both. 2023 was also the year when chart-topping artists came to town. Headliner music event of the year, Glastonbury, was the reason for 2,625 absences, whilst 202 more took a day off to see Beyonce, 140 for Lewis Capaldi, 56 for Snoop Dogg, and 67 took time off to secure those elusive Taylor Swift tickets!

“And to finish off on a note of dread, Tuesday 24 January 2023, was marked by some conspiracy theorists as the day the world was supposed to end. Luckily the earth still spins, but apocalypse anxiety caused a 75% jump in sickness absences that day, compared with the average Tuesday in 2023. And perhaps more unexpectedly, we found multiple mentions of ‘doomed’ and ‘doomsday’ in our absence management software, and a particularly sombre ‘we are all doomed!’

“Even though these findings may appear light-hearted and enjoyable, they demonstrate the significance of effective people management in the workplace. In the long run, it can ensure employers stay on top of staffing levels, but it also enables any trends to be identified and explored.

“Having eyes on employees’ whereabouts and their absence, sickness, and lateness patterns helps you as a manager, make better, more-informed decisions to support them, and to remain productive.

“And not only that, but the right people management software speeds up and streamlines entire processes, from hiring, to managing absences, to clocking in and out, saving significant time and HR burden and freeing up employers to concentrate on growing their business.”


Refer to Bright Rewind: Your 2023 Wrapped for more insights into last year’s employment trends to prepare business owners for all 2024’s absence-inducing events.

Read for unmissable tips and free resources to better protect against sick day surges, last-minute holidays, reoccurring lateness, and more.


Alexandra Poole

Global Senior Manager of PR, Content & Social Media
+44 7977 744418

Written by SerieAUKWire

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