At Last! Good News Re Sickness Absence Rates

In Business, In The Press, Industry News by PCH Staff

According to a new survey, 40% of UK employers have seen their sickness absence rates improve over the last year. This figure represents a six percent increase over last year and is in complete contrast to the 15 % of employers who said their sickness absence rates had worsened.

The survey, conducted by Group Risk Development (GRiD), interviewed 500 UK businesses with between 5 and 100 employees.

But what are the reasons for this apparent improvement in absence rates?

According to the survey, employers put the reduction in sickness absence down to good morale in the workplace. In fact, this was the number one reason given by employers (62 %). A further 21% , however, said that health and wellness initiatives to support staff were the reason for the sickness level decrease.

Perhaps the most poignant statistic from the study is the fact that over a third (36 %) of employers surveyed cited employee anxiety about losing their jobs if they didn’t come into work as the main factor behind the improvement in sickness absence.

While any improvement in sickness absence is a good thing for businesses, the employee anxiety factor is one that should be closely monitored. We’ve talked before about the risks to businesses of ‘presenteeism’ and the potential long-term absence it can lead to.

However, before we start pointing the finger at presenteeism, let’s not forget the good work that employers are doing nowadays to improve attendance and reduce levels of absence. Conducting return to work interviews with individuals who have been off sick; improving training for line managers to cope with sickness absence; and raising the issue of sickness absence at board level are all steps that employers have taken to reduce overall absence levels.

GRiD’s research shows that employers tend to favour return to work interviews for employees who have been off sick for a period of time, with 30% of employers citing that they utilise them.

Furthermore, the growing trend of employers measuring absence as a KPI and implementing capability procedures for employees has undoubtedly had a positive impact on absence levels. The fact that absence is now discussed around the board room table as a regular agenda point inevitably has an impact too.

It should come as no surprise though that companies are keen to improve sickness absence as its effective management is one of the biggest keys to overall business continuity. Moreover, absent employees not only cost the business in terms of productivity and salary, but also put a strain on the firm’s other employees who have to cope with the additional workload.

The cost of sickness absence to businesses in the UK is thought to be £29 billion per year, so it’s not surprising that 78 % of employers now actively record, monitor and manage sickness absence every year

As our economy emerges from recession we are witnessing improved levels of absenteeism in the workplace. Across many of our clients we are receiving positive feedback that the strategies we have helped them implement to manage absence are contributing towards this positive picture. For more details on how Premier Choice can help you implement a successful strategy please contact us.


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