Employee absences and presenteeism are costing Canadian employers nearly $645 million annually, according to a new report by Manulife Financial Corp.

The report — which analyzed data from nearly 50 Manulife group benefits plan sponsor clients, as well as survey responses from more than 4,900 employees — found an average of 48 days per employee were lost in 2022 due to health-related absences and presenteeism, a seven-day increase from 2021. Workers aged 18 to 24 had poorer results in key mental, physical and financial-health indicators combined with higher productivity loss, compared to older workers.

Read: Pandemic putting absence management in spotlight for majority of U.S. employers: survey

The report also found poor sleep is associated with decreased levels of physical and mental health, with work-related stress the No. 1 contributor to poor sleep. A quarter (27 per cent) of employees said they get less than the recommended seven hours of sleep and 40 per cent said they aren’t meeting the recommended level of physical activity (150 minutes per week).

In terms of financial health, 63 per cent of employees said they worry about their financial situation and 30 per cent said worrying about money distracts them at work.

The report noted workplace culture, including the availability of programs and support from management, can have a significant influence on employee health. Nearly two-thirds (62 per cent) of employees said their employer’s senior managers view employee health and well-being as important for the organization’s success and 52 per cent noted senior management demonstrates healthy lifestyle choices and mental-health habits.

“While some productivity loss due to absences and presenteeism is expected, it is concerning to see these numbers have increased year over year for the past three years,” said Ashesh Desai, head of group benefits at Manulife Canada, in a press release. “In response to this trend, I encourage leaders and organizations to focus on the needs of their employees and design innovative, health-focused plans to support stronger, healthier cultures and high performance.”

Read: Employee mental well-being begins with supportive workplace culture: webinar