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Struggling with sickness? Take a look at work-life balance

It’s inevitable that every so often, one of our people will call in sick.

We’re all human and come into contact with germs every day – it’s just part of life. It therefore makes sense that the top major cause of sickness absence in organisations is minor ailments, flu, colds and food poisoning – with 53% of respondents to Employee Benefits’ Healthcare Research reporting this.

What might come as a surprise though is that for 1 in 10 employees, the major cause of sickness is preventable. Work-life balance problems, including care for elderly and disabled adults and children, are on the list.

Employee absence is an expensive issue. According to the research, on average 41% of employees take 3-5 days, 18% take 6-10 days and 16% take 1-2 days per annum impacting both for productivity and payroll. Where measures can be taken to prevent absence, it surely makes good business sense to do so?

The good news is that over 75% have a sickness policy or are planning to introduce one. The bad news is that if you’re one of the quarter who don’t, you’re already at an immediate disadvantage.

So, to get ahead of the curve, what are the most popular sickness absence strategies?

1.       It’s all about early intervention and helping those to return

Early intervention by line managers when a team member is about to go or has gone off work sick has been identified as a key strategy for tackling sickness, with 74% of organisations doing so. Return to work interviews, either formal or informal, are also a top tactic to tackle absence for 71% of organisations.

2.       Don’t forget the practical basics: access to care and work-life balance and flexible working policies

Work-life balance and flexible working policies are the third key tool organisations employ to manage absence, closely followed by access to care. Practical solutions, such as onsite care, can provide a vital support in helping families to find a successful balance between responsibilities at home and at work.

3.       Helping employees to self-select: health promotion and education

In recent years there has been a rise in the use of health promotion and education as a key tool to manage sickness, this year peaking at almost 60%. Providing information and useful guidance to employees on a variety of key health and wellbeing issues will enable them to recognise any issues early on and seek the best help.

Reducing absence where possible can feel like a great challenge however, there are instances when sickness can be prevented with a few easy steps – beginning with work-life balance. Employing these strategies can provide much-needed support to employees, particularly in their time of need, while ensuring they are able to remain at their peak.

Have you implemented a sickness strategy? If so, we’d love to hear more about it.

E: europeclientservices@brighthorizons.com


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