Employee absence is costing the UK £29 billion a year

Whilst this alarming statistic is a bitter pill to swallow, it is not all doom and gloom for UK organisations. A recent study from the CIPD shows there have been small signs of improvement in national employee absence levels, with the average decreasing across all sectors to 6.3 days per person – the lowest figure in 7 years.

What has been driving this reduction? In short, better collaboration, understanding and monitoring.

Collaboration. Organisations are taking a more collaborative approach between their HR and Occupational Health functions. Historically, OH has often been viewed as the last resort when managing employee’s sickness absence; however, more and more businesses are seeing the benefits of early intervention. Referring employees as early as possible enables your OH provider/team to make proactive recommendations as opposed to reactive action – this can often make the difference between short and long-term sickness absence.

Understanding. Traditionally, mental health has been a taboo subject within the workplace, surrounded by a culture of silence and lack of understanding. However, as the number one cause of sickness absence and with an average of 15million working days lost annually due to stress, depression and anxiety alone, organisations have had to start tackling the taboo through better knowledge and understanding of this complex condition. Workplace wellbeing programmes have increased by 24% since 2015 with recent research by the BITC demonstrating that companies who invest in their employee’s mental wellbeing have a more, engaged and resilient workforce resulting in a decrease in sickness absence.

To read more on this issue, click here and download the SYLO Associates article “Employee Wellbeing – Are you doing enough?” 

Monitoring. In the past, addressing employee absence has often fallen off strategic agendas and investment plans, due to the fact that many organisations simply do not know the true picture of their absence levels. Lack of robust absence management procedures, policies and monitoring tools has left many UK businesses in the dark, making proactive and corrective action difficult, timely and costly. With businesses now starting to realise the financial and productivity cost of absence, effective monitoring and transparency has moved further up the corporate agenda. Implementing robust absence management policies and effective monitoring tools within your organisation can significantly reduce employee absence.

What can you do?

Tackling sickness absence within your workplace does not have to be a minefield, some handy suggestions, which may help, include:

  • Ensure clear, transparent and robust sickness absence management processes are in place within your (and/or your clients’) organisation. Make sure these are promoted internally so that everyone is clear on what they should be doing when sickness absence occurs.
  • Use an automated HR system to help free up your valuable time and focus on the growth of your business. A system such as BreatheHR from Sylo Associates, gives Managers more time to ensure their employees are receiving the best support. Click here for a free trial.
  • Engage with your employees and listen to them, this can help identify any behavioural changes and warning signs sooner enabling you to take a proactive approach. An employee attitude survey, by an objective, external company, can give you a greater insight into your employee’s views regarding workplace issues and culture.

Click here to read Sylo Associates’ handy guide on The Do’s and Don’ts of Employee Surveys

  • Have an occupational health provider in place and ensure they work closely with your HR team to enable early intervention and relevant recommendations.
  • Invest in a Day One Absence Management Service to take away all the hard work of monitoring and managing your employee absence. This can also increase manager compliance to the critical policies you have shed blood, sweat and tears creating.

Medigold Health is one of the UK’s most respected and established Occupational Health providers. We have been involved in the management of sickness and absence for over 19 years.

Medigold Health’s Day One Absence Management Service has the key purpose of providing a standardised process for all employees to report their absence from work, collecting timely and accurate information to ensure that the Manager can proactively manage the absence and Senior Management and HR can manage the Managers.

Our experience and expertise in Day One Absence Management means our clients benefit from an average absence reduction of 20% in year one, delivering a return on investment of over 500%.

To find out how much is absence costing your organisation, click here to use our handy absence calculator.



Fit For Work


Business in the Community