Two in five (40%) of UK employers have seen their sickness absence rates improve over the last 12 months, according to new research from Group Risk Development (GRiD), the trade body for the group risk industry. This is 6% up on last year, and in comparison to just 15% who said they felt their rates has worsened, indicating improvement across the board in managing employee absence.
While 62% said this was down to good morale in the workplace, one in five (21%) said health and wellness initiatives to support staff were a key reason. However, over a third (36%) put this down to staff anxiety about losing their jobs if they did not come into work.
Employers are using a variety of measures to reduce absence and improve attendance – ranging from return to work interviews, through training for line managers, to absence monitoring at board level. GRiD’s research shows return to work interviews remain the most common strategy with 30% of employers utilising them. Tellingly, there has been an increase in employers using capability procedures and absence as a KPI and, notably, an increase in absence being monitored at board level, which could go some way towards explaining the improved absence rates.
Absence management is key to ensuring business continuity, as employers could otherwise lose money through reduced productivity and by picking up the salary of the absent employee. Sickness absence also puts a strain on other staff members who have to manage the extra workload. Sickness absence in the workplace is estimated to cost UK businesses £29 billion each year so, not surprisingly, a strong majority (78%) of employers now actively record, monitor and manage absence.