Sickness absence, Throwing a sickie

Throwing a sickie – a thing of the past?

No doubt you will have seen the recent headlines. The latest CIPD research shows that 86% of employers had seen their employees coming in to work ill. This is a shocking increase from 26% back in 2010.

Why has it increased?

‘Presenteeism’, as it’s also known, normally happens when employees feel pressure to continue working and to deliver, no matter what.

Unfortunately, the CIPD found that employers don’t seem to be taking any active steps to discourage it.

Advances in technology haven’t helped either as employees can easily be contacted outside ‘office hours’, receiving texts and emails in the evening and at the weekends.  This can lead to increased stress and poor mental health as they don’t have the time to properly ‘switch off’ or disconnect from work.

Worryingly, the research also found that many employees were willing to work whilst on holiday too.

Throwing a sickie

How can this impact my organisation?

The figures are compelling, in terms of the potential impact on the bottom line for an organisation, be it an SME, a charity or church.

If an employee works when they are ill, they are not working at their optimum level, so this will impact the quality and rate of productivity…not to mention the potential of infecting other team members!

Nottingham Business School estimates that attending work when the employee should be on sickness absence costs more than £4,000 per worker. This figure is based on the average worker spending almost two weeks at work whilst being ill.

What can I do?

To help tackle levels of presenteeism, you can help by actively discouraging your employees to come in whilst ill, supporting them to manage their workloads so they don’t feel they have to work every weekend and holiday and promoting wellbeing at work.

What about absence in general?

In bigger organisations, other employees often step in and fill the gap while someone is off, but this is not often the case for smaller organisations.

For SMEs, charities and churches, tracking and addressing absence is not always a priority.  The impact on productivity and potentially the quality of service on offer can be underestimated.

The latest figures from the ONS show that 137.3 million working days were lost to sickness or injury in 2016, that’s equivalent to 4.3 days per worker.

Not sure where to start?

Nicci Birley, Rob Birley. Cornerstone Resources

Cornerstone Resources can support you in the area of sickness absence, helping you to establish a policy and process (if you don’t have one already), look at patterns in absence for your organisation and work with you to design the best solution to help improve absence rates and promote wellbeing.

Contact Rob on 07494 161169 or Nicci on 07908 875146 for a free consultation.

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