Reducing Short Term Sickness Absence


Does your workplace have a problem with short term sickness absence? Employees being absent from work comes with costly implications for organisations; posing a rising concern for UK businesses. Businesses simply cannot afford to front the impact of reduced productivity levels, not to mention the rising cost of hiring agency workers. But what can be done to improve absence management processes within the workplace, and keep employees happy and healthy at work? Find out more in this post.

The cost of Sickness Absence to businesses

Unexplained sick days are costing the UK economy as much as £1.4 billion a year. On top of this, it’s estimated that 7.5 million ‘sickie’ days are pulled by UK SME employees each year, costing UK businesses £900 million. Short term sickness absence has a direct impact on productivity levels and a negative impact on business performance. When businesses fail to address short term absences, whether they’re explained or unexplained, businesses face a larger (and more costly) issue. But how can we reduce these overwhelming outgoings? How can we reduce our employees’ stress levels to keep them in work and productive?

Causes of Recurrent Short Term Absence

Before putting the steps in place to tackle short term absence within the workplace, it’s important to understand the role and causes of recurrent absences; a key contributor to the issue. The causes could be related to their personal life, issues within the workplace, or a combination of the two.

Some of the possible reasons for poor attendance are:

  • An underlying medical condition;
  • A weak immune system, leaving a person more susceptible to illness;
  • Personal or family problems, either requiring them to take time off, or leaving them feeling too mentally drained to attend work;
  • High workload;
  • Conflict with colleagues;
  • Workplace bullying; and/or
  • General low satisfaction and motivation levels at work caused by a variety of factors.

Depending on the underlying issue behind the absence, the solution and support offered will differ. For example, if a person has family problems perhaps look at offering flexible working hours, or drop their hours to better accommodate this. On the other hand, if they are struggling with their workload, workplace adjustments can be made to help.

Short Term Absence in London

London based businesses face an ever-bigger issue in regards to short term absence. Londoners have the longest average commute time in the UK, standing at 74 minutes a day, meaning that for something as quick as a 10-minute doctor appointment, employees can be out of work for half the day; having a direct impact on business performance. This poses a wider set of issues, from unexplained absences for employees that feel as though they can’t ask for the time off, to attending work when they are ill, leading to higher rates of presenteeism. Both of these can lead to low levels of employee motivation and job satisfaction, leading to recurrent low productivity and efficiency levels.

Managing Short Term absence

Luckily, there are steps you can take to better support employees’ health and wellbeing, reduce short term sickness absence levels and overall improve business productivity levels.

Understand the reasons for absence

Before you can put actions in place to reduce short term absence levels, it’s important to understand the reasons behind absences. For persistent short term absence patterns you have noted, arrange to have a discussion with an employee. Use their return to work interview as an opportunity to discuss their absence record, and ask them about anything that’s going on in their personal or work lives that may be contributing to their high rate of absence. You can use this opportunity to offer your support, better understand their situation and put any adjustments in place to help their situation.

On-site services

Another way to help control your short term sickness absence levels is to provide access to an on-site GP service as part of your corporate health and wellbeing package. Provide your employees with access to on-site GP appointments, and a range of other services to help improve their physical and mental health; keeping them healthy and in work.

Our on-site services are particularly beneficial in London and the surrounding areas where it is notoriously difficult to arrange to see a GP, which can result in employees having to take longer off work with no access to treatment. Let our team bring healthcare in-house to reduce short term absence rates, and boost productivity levels

Contact us today to find out how we can support your business with our range of on-site GP services.

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