Searches for excuses to miss work hits record high

Across the top 10 most popular search terms, search volume has increased by 630 percent from 2018 to 2022. Here’s how talent leaders help support employee well-being.

Searches for excuses to miss work have risen dramatically over the last two years. With Fortune recently reporting that The Great Resignation is showing no signs of abating and in the context of the return to office, it’s perhaps not too surprising that employees are searching for excuses they can give to skip work in larger numbers. Across the top 10 most popular search terms, search volume has increased by 630 percent from 2018 to 2022.

Frank Recruitment Group has collated the 10 most popular Google searches over a five year period. The search volume data comprising this dataset was collected through initial research using and corresponds to searches conducted on Google within the U.S. A list of associated search terms was collected, analyzed and organized before further research was conducted via SEMrush to determine monthly search volumes from 2018 to 2022. Data analysis considered monthly, yearly and cumulative search volume totals.

Graphic by LaTonya Hampton

How talent leaders can support employees

Seeing search volumes jump so drastically across the board in 2021 seems to coincide with the beginning of the return to office which tells us that this hasn’t been the easiest transition for employees. The important thing, of course, is not to try and “go back to normal” but to go forwards to a healthier tomorrow.

Shané P. Teran of SP Consulting says those who are looking for excuses for missing work are likely “feeling that they do not have a supervisor or organization culture in which they can freely take time off without being met with ridicule or challenge.” 

Teran also emphasized the return to office requires care on the part of employers. “A number of people are not experiencing the grace and understanding from employers that they need; which leads to a resolve of faking it but escaping by any means necessary. People are needing to take more time off to manage the long-lasting stressors that come with readjustment.”

She says employers are still readjusting. “Workloads are higher, more deadlines are fixed, and the overall culture of self-care is spoken, yet not often enforced and supported.”

Teran suggests while many businesses have already taken strides, the key to long-term, meaningful change is to find balance “amongst competing interests – revenue recovery and employee wellbeing.”

For example, hire for more roles where possible so that workloads become more manageable across teams, pursue digital transformation and automation to improve organizational workflow and ensure quality management of wellness support schemes. Involving staff in co-design processes for these kinds of measures is particularly worthwhile and effective. If employees can play a part in ideation and even implementation, they’re more likely to feel seen, heard, and therefore engaged.