It is no secret that employee absence is a huge cost for employers, running into billions of pounds in the UK. The cost is especially high when key members of staff are away from work for extended periods of time, or repeatedly with the same complaint.
Short term absences are not necessarily preferable because they can be disruptive but when they start happening more frequently they might indicate a wider issue with morale within a particular department or across the business.
It is not just the cost to the employer that is significant. Poor health is unquestionably bad for the individuals involved, but when businesses suffer, so too does the wider economy.
The challenge of reducing absence
Reducing your company’s sickness absence is not as challenging a task as it might seem and using absence software to monitor staff can help you get a handle on it quickly. Flexibility and understanding from employers is a good starting place and research suggests that in the longer term, this can lead to increased productivity and a lower turnover of staff. Recruitment and training are obviously another huge bill for employers.
An effective occupational health provider can be a huge help and if the company does not have an in-house team, outsourcing can be very beneficial. They provide advice on reducing absence and help with rehabilitating employees as they come back to work. Musculoskeletal issues are one of the biggest issues and making sure workspaces are set up correctly can be crucial in getting employees back on track, but also as a preventative measure.
With an ageing population and many choosing to work after the standard retirement age, the number of chronic illnesses among people at work will most likely rise too. Employers’ approach to absence will also need to take into account those who become carers for others.
Regular reviews of work space and skills analysis can make sure that employees are in the right job. This might mean adapting roles or moving employees around.
Value employees while they are at work
After back pain, mental health problems are one of the biggest causes of absence. Coaching and mentoring programmes can go a long way to making people feel valued and consequently reducing some elements of work-related stress. A good work-life balance is at the top of many employees’ lists of wishes from their work. Feeling unsupported or having too much work to do are amongst the top reasons for employees feeling overwhelmed and leading to mental health related absence.
In some ways it can be easier for larger employees to implement flexibility around working patterns and job roles because there are other people who can pick up slack or adjust their own situations. In a smaller company there might not be that option.
Getting the right systems in place to monitor absence can be invaluable in spotting trends and prompting preventative action and any monetary outlay soon pays for itself. It is impossible to significantly reduce absenteeism without knowing why employees are off sick, so some degree of monitoring and analysis is vital. There are procedures in place around the business, so make sure absence monitoring is as slick as it can be.