As winter starts to bite, there are implications for staff attendance at work.
There is a cycle to sickness absence which can be seen with great clarity when studying large organisations over several years. Using the NHS absence as an example, see the graph below (Data from Health and Social Care Information Centre). This quarter of the year traditionally sees a rise in absence, largely associated with short term conditions.
The health and wellbeing of your employees affects your business productivity, client experiences and your bottom line. It is however possible to impact these in a positive way. Absence management policies and procedures tend to focus on managing the sickness absence behaviour which exists, rather than changing that behaviour. Interventions tend to be disengaging and lead to further reduced productivity.
Supporting employees to improve their health and wellbeing by changing the way they care for themselves is empowering for individuals, it enhances engagement and pays dividends for your business.
Within the NHS, Monitors’ Chief Executive, David Bennett recognises “getting a greater grip on their staffing costs, especially for agency staff, will help Trusts increase their financial resilience” (Healthcare Finance ,HFMA, Oct 2014, p4-5).
Many organisations need that greater financial resilience and many are impeded by requiring agency or temporary staff. NHS Trusts using The Healthy Worker Course have been delighted with the results. There is good evidence of Trusts saving over £100,000 on reduced absence costs, within 12 months of introducing the Healthy Worker Course for their staff, based on take home pay costs only. Staff are benefitting with many individuals telling us of how the course has given them positive ways to make changes in their lives and the impact this has not only for them, but also on their families.
Improving the health and wellbeing of staff is good for them, good for your organisation and good for its clients / patients. The NHS is not alone in gaining these benefits and increasingly this programme establishing itself within small and medium sized businesses, and other public sector organisations. Health improvement is releasing significant savings, whilst also improving staff engagement and the health and wellbeing of their organisational communities. The approach does represent something of a step change in absence management but with longer established methods seeing absence as an on-going concern for employers, this is long overdue.
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