Absence management in the UK 2012 – an overview

As ever the CIPD’s Absence Management survey (produced in partnership with Simplyhealth) makes for interesting reading if managing Human Resource is your thing. And let’s face it if you are a manager, whether a company director or a line manager managing your team and any absence is crucial to how an organisation performs.

The report is full of lots of stats, for me the most startling are as follows;

Stress becomes the number one reason for workplace absence.

The average level of staff absence is now 6.8 days from 7.7 days, however that’s still more than a working week per employee per year. Meaning if you employ more than 54 people, based on the average your organisation will lose 365 days per year!

The average cost of absence per employee has reduced slightly to back to the reported 2010 figure of £600.

The most common cause of stress is reported as workload. Clearly it’s a growing problem, is this driven by employees being pushed to do more or a lack of suitable training and lack of engagement with their employer? Work is good for us, however it would seem that the levels have gone past a tipping point.

Just under half of employers have a targeted method for reducing employee absence, although it would seem that most organisations record employee absence. So the measurement and reporting is in place but the management of the issue less so?

The fit note it would seem just hasn’t delivered – with very few believing it is being used effectively by GP’s.

So just a few of the stats summarised – I recommend you get a copy of the report and compare your organisation to those in a similar sector and spend time with your HR peers to discuss and adopt best practise. Which includes manager training, sickness absence policy review and evolution, consistent and timely use of return to work interviews, remain engaged to your workforce and early intervention by support services such as Occupational Health.

Next I will be sharing our thoughts on how Occupational Health should be involved with sickness absence and how to get the most from your investment in Occupational Health services.




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