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How to Manage Employee Absence

If the past year has taught us anything, it’s that employee wellbeing should be a top priority for all businesses, regardless of sector or size.  

XpertHR’s annual survey into sickness absence rates and costs discovered that the 2019 median sickness rate was 2.7% of working time, an increase of 0.2% from 2018. Although 0.2% may seem miniscule, employee sickness has a compounding effect on the productivity and profitability of your business – for example, projects and meetings are usually delayed, rescheduled or cancelled all together.  

Not only does it affect your business, it also affects your people. Employee sickness can put strain on other employees, who have to adopt the unexpected additional workload. Excessive employee sickness can also act as a significant indicator that your employees may be unhappy, and employers should have an interest in reducing or resolving this feeling as much as possible.  

In 2021, two of the main causes of short-term absence were: minor illness (such as colds, headaches etc.) and mental illness. Both types of illnesses are inherently challenging for employers to manage, and although they may not be entirely avoidable, there are some things that employers can do to better the health and happiness of their employees.  

Minor physical illness (such as colds and headaches) and mental illness can be rooted in three causes: nutrition, sleep and exercise. These are not always the root cause of mental illness, but they do typically play an influential role.  

Workplace interventions to improve these components, especially nutrition and exercise, are becoming increasingly crucial

In fact, “the WHO’s 2004 Global Strategy on Diet, Physical Activity and Health, as endorsed by the Fifty-seventh World Health Assembly, highlights the workplace as an important setting for health promotion” -  World Health Organisation  

Workplace wellbeing strategies are becoming more popular, with more employers offering healthy food perks (such as healthy snacks delivered to the office or employee’s homes) or offering continued mental health support.  

The crux of the matter is that we are employers, but we are also people. The wellbeing of our staff matters to the business, but we should also have an interest in their wellbeing as a result of our personal relationship with them. The employees of an organisation are its greatest assets.  

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