Top Tips for Reducing Sickness Absence

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This is the time of year that always seems to drag on; with long dark days that never seem to end, it is no wonder that the first Monday of February is ‘National Sickie Day’. An estimated 350,000 UK workers were expected to have called in sick to work on that day alone. There are many reasons for taking time off work, in this case, it may be due to having celebrated the end of dry January, others will be genuinely ill or perhaps they are just feeling uninspired and work is the last place they want to be.

Figures from The Office for National Statistics show that UK workers are calling in sick less and less. The average UK Employee took 4.1 sickness days in 2017, compared to 7.2 in 1999 (a reduction of nearly half). This is good news for Employers; however, sickness continues to be a significant and costly issue for many Companies, impacting productivity and lowering morale of those left to cover the work

Managing absenteeism with clear guidance for Managers in the absence Policy, along with trigger levels, can reduce sickness absence. Best practice for Employers would be to take a pro-active approach and manage sickness before it occurs.

Here are some tips:
  1. Monitor and analyse absenteeism for illness types, timings and trends for individuals as well as teams.
  2. Introduce flexible working, this will allow Employees to align their professional and private lives, improving motivation and reducing stress.
  3. Make the working environment a comfortable one by regulating the office temperature.
  4. With the prevalence of poor mental health these days, Managers and Employers should check in with their teams regularly to see if they are coping with their workloads. Encourage communication with an open-door policy for Employees to come and talk to Managers about areas in which they may be struggling.
  5. Introduce healthy habits in the workplace. Some Companies have a weekly delivery of fruit, whilst it may not satisfy the afternoon sugar low it is a healthy alternative with a Vitamin C boost. If space permits, offer in house exercise sessions at the end of the day or explore the viability of introducing discounted gym memberships to your benefits package.
  6. Consider offering flu jabs.
  7. Encourage Employees to take time off when they are genuinely ill and not to come back until they are fit and healthy again. The damage of Employees with a contagious bug remaining in the workplace is as equally damaging as those who take advantage and remain off work.
  8. Ensure that Employees who have had long-term sicknesses are offered an Occupational Health Assessment so that you can address any reasonable adjustments that may need to be made to their working environment. These measures will reduce the likelihood of repeated absences for the same reason.
  9. Offer incentives to Employees with good attendance.


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