Words by Paul Avis, Marketing Director of Canada Life.
Reproduced with the permission of Canada Life.
There are many concerns for businesses in the UK, from how to generate more business to the pressure exerted by competitors. In recent years however, there are very few issues that have the same impact on both top and bottom line performance as sickness absence.
Employers are well aware that hiring good staff will have a positive effect on their balance sheet, but all too often some adopt a ‘head in the sand’ approach to the effect that employee health issues have on their productivity and performance figures.
Although there are a number of long-term absence causes, such as musculoskeletal disorders, accidents and psychological illness, one cause that is steadily increasing is stress. The Health & Safety Executive states 9.9 million working days were lost to stress in 2014/15, with the average length of stress absence standing at 23 days per absence.(1)
So, what services are available to employers looking to improve their employee health and well-being within the workplace?
One way do to this would be to look at stress management. Stress management services are available as stand-alone products but can also be found as part of other absence management services. Stress management tends to be short-term, focussing on practical solutions to relieve the everyday pressures of modern life before they become an absence issue.
The business case for employee health and wellbeing is very strong...
Stress, however, is not the only cause of absence. There are a whole range of more general absence management programmes that are available for employers looking to cut down their sickness absence. These can range from simple programs allowing employers to monitor and report absence efficiently, to telephone services manned by occupational nurses who provide advice on the management of individual absences. Again, these can be stand-alone services or form part of an occupational health proposition.
Employees may sometimes need a long-term solution to their problems, both in the work place and through their private life. Counselling support is one such solution which can offer support to employees who are going through a difficult time – helping them to deal with the issues and allowing them to return to work.
Wellness (or wellbeing) services can also work to improve the atmosphere in the workplace, as well as increasing motivation amongst employees and reducing turnover rates. These services range in type across a broad range of programmes such as; health screening, corporate sponsored gym memberships and web or app-based ‘healthy lifestyle’ programmes.
The business case for employee health and wellbeing is very strong, as ignoring the problem of sickness absence could lead companies to lose their competitive edge. Therefore, taking a proactive approach puts the employer in control of the situation, and can help create a much better working environment for employees – which, in turn, can increase staff retention.
With the recent economic climate and much-increased awareness of the issues, it is unlikely any informed employer will take much persuasion that employee absence needs to be addressed. Employee health and wellbeing is therefore, a very good place to start.
1) Work-related Stress, Anxiety and Depression Statistics in Great Britain 2015, page 2 http://www.hse.gov.uk/statistics/causdis/stress/stress.pdf