occupational health
22nd October 2015

With the current economic state many businesses are keen to find ways of strengthening their bottom line, but what if employers could improve this whilst reaping huge benefits for employee health and wellbeing?

As occupational health specialists we are guided by nurse practitioners to be patient advocates; yet it is paramount that we act in ways which reflects both employee and business needs.

For us ‘Good Health is Good Business’ and with an average of 4.4 days being lost per year per employee the management of sickness absence and employee health and wellbeing has never been more crucial.

The main concern is that many employers see this as the norm and simply expect that each employee will take several days’ absence during the year. However, most employers have not calculated the direct cost this has on their business.

ONS statistics reveal that, on average, absences will cost the economy over £100bn a year, but what is the cost to the average company? Using these ONS statistics, Sound Advice calculate the direct cost alone to be £461 per employee, per year – a significant number for employers of every size.

There are also the indirect costs created by low employee health and wellbeing, morale, productivity levels and presenteeism, as well as any consequential impact on the quality of the product or service delivered, reputational damage and even the impact on employee health and wellbeing of those who will be left to pick up the workload.

We’ve found the most common question asked has been – What can we do about it?

This is where Occupational Health comes in, we start right at the beginning, working with and supporting you all the way through; managing absence efficiently and effectively.

Taking steps to address the health and wellbeing concerns of employees could pay dividends for businesses. Employers should always aim to achieve best practice rather than simply meet the minimum requirements, as this will ultimately be reflected in the quality of service delivered.

We continue to be alarmed at the number of employers who simply accept the absence of an employee without giving any concern to the underlying reasons. In order to both ensure employee wellbeing and mitigate the chance of more time being spent away from the workplace.

As well as poor management of employee health and wellbeing, another hurdle numerous employers face when looking to address employee health and wellbeing is the issue of privacy. Many employees prefer to be vague about the reasons why they needed time off, which can make it difficult for managers looking to resolve any problems the employee may be facing.

Understandably, managers often do not want to pry into the reasons for the absence, but effectively managing occupational health is key to both ensuring the wellbeing of employees and achieving the best from the workforce, as ultimately, appreciated employees are happy, productive, reliable workers who will deliver high-quality services for the business.

This is supported by a major survey of sickness absence trends undertaken by the Engineering Employers’ Federation which demonstrated a clear link between addressing sickness absence and improved business performance.

Demonstrating the importance of taking action, the HSE identified key elements involved in effectively managing sickness absence and overall employee health and wellbeing, which display the importance of proactive absence management.

These included:

  • Seeking professional advice.
  • Recording sickness absence correctly.
  • Keeping in contact with absent employees.
  • Rehabilitation of employees back in to work.
  • Occupational health pulls together these key elements and works to promote:
  • Improvements in employee health and wellbeing
  • Reduced risks by controlling exposures within your business.
  • Support and guidance with early interventions.

If you wish more information on any of the above services or how we can help with employee health and wellbeing, contact our occupational health team on 0845 862 8040


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