One In Five UK Businesses Lack The Expertise To Manage Sickness Absence – Zurich

In Business, Employee Benefits, Industry News by Stephen Ellis

More than one in five (22%) UK businesses lack the expertise needed to manage workplace sickness absence. That is one of the key revelations from a new study conducted by YouGov on behalf of insurer Zurich.

Losing Staff, Productivity Declining

The study, which polled financial decision makers in British companies, examined the biggest risks facing them today. The findings of the study suggest that many British companies are exposed to losing skilled staff and seeing their productivity decline as a result of unmanaged and extended sickness absence.

Furthermore, the study also revealed that it is medium-sized businesses (50-249 employees) which are most at risk. In fact medium-sized businesses are almost twice as likely (29%) to not have the appropriate skills to manage their employees’ ill health effectively, compared to 14% of larger organisations and 22% of small businesses.

The findings of the study should serve as a wake-up call for businesses that are not equipped and lack the necessary expertise to deal with employee absence – especially when you consider that employee absence costs the UK economy around £18 billion per year in lost productivity.

When it comes to Group Income Protection, just 15% of British businesses said they provide it for their employees, with larger companies almost twice as likely to do so as medium-sized ones (45% vs. 23%).

Small Businesses Most Vulnerable

Only 8% of small businesses (less than 50 employees) provide Group Income Protection to their employees. This is despite the fact they are the most vulnerable when it comes to staff absence.

Speaking about the findings of the survey, Nick Homer, head of market management for group risk at Zurich, said: “The findings particularly highlight the vulnerability of smaller businesses and their employees. Group income protection can help businesses operate more effectively by providing both financial support and access to expertise to aid the recovery of employees suffering from an illness or injury.

“We know from experience that absent employees who have access to support via their workplace group income protection arrangement return to work more successfully and quicker than those who don’t, with many having benefitted from specialist support and treatment that they may struggle to access via the NHS.”

When asked how much they thought Group Income Protection would cost annually as a percentage of salary roll, over 40% of respondents indicated that they had no idea. A further 21% said they thought it would equate to over 3%.  In reality though, the cost of Group Income Protection is closer to 1% of annual payroll – and can even be as low as 0.5% in some circumstances.

The reality is that smaller employers must consider Group Income Protection. As previously highlighted, cost should not be an issue, with evidence showing that schemes can cost as little as 0.5% of salary roll.

Group Income Protection can save an employer huge sums in terms of reduced absence, and can help promote a mentally stronger workforce with increased productivity.

It begs the question, how can a typical SME have the tools to deal with complex mental health issues of employees?

Stephen joined Premier Choice in 2006 as a Group Risk consultant and became Head of Group Risk in June 2013. In December 2017, Stephen also took over responsibility for the Protection division within Premier Choice and works to grow this in the same way he has the Group Risk division. Protection is a specialist area and fits well with his experience and expertise in the group risk market.