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The consequences of ill health can be significant for a business, with considerable direct and indirect costs arising from sickness absence. It was estimated by the HR and people development body, the CIPD, that sickness absence cost UK employers £522 per employee per year1.
But it doesn’t end there. Presenteeism – where employees attend work when unwell and perform below par – also comes at a cost. Indeed, the Centre for Mental Health in 2007 has estimated that over half the cost to business of mental ill health at work is as a result of reduced productivity of employees when at work2.
It’s important to manage sickness absence effectively. Equally – if not more – important, is prevention. A good place to start is building and sustaining a positive, supportive workplace culture where employees are encouraged to lead healthy, active lives and have a good work/life balance. And, of course, if they become ill or injured, ensure they are actively supported by encouraging them to take time off when necessary for check-ups and medical appointments.
When it comes to tackling the subject of lifestyle choices such as diet and exercise in your business, understandably, this may feel a little awkward. But these elements of our lives can significantly affect both physical and psychological health. Poor physical health can be bad news for your mood, self-esteem, energy levels and resilience. But even simple measures and subtle changes such as encouraging a healthy, balanced diet and regular exercise can help to improve physical and mental health.
A healthy, confident team is an asset to any small business and prevention, early intervention and allowing employees sufficient time to recover from illness or injury are all key to positive attendance management. By actively engaging with your workforce to support their health and wellbeing – and not forgetting your own – you can go a long way to creating a workplace culture that optimises performance and productivity.
1CIPD (2016). Absence management survey report 2016.
2The Sainsbury Centre for Mental Health (2007).
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