More line managers are expected to handle employee absences, yet they lack the tools and support to do so effectively, according to a recent report by CIPD.
The Absence Management Survey, which asked over 1,000 employers how they approach employee absence, found nearly one in three employers (28%) say line managers are taking primary responsibility for absence management, compared to 17% in 2015.
25% of employers say giving line managers sickness absence information is the most effective way of managing long-term absence. Yet despite the important role line managers have in managing work absences, the survey also found the majority of employers aren’t giving them the tools they need to manage employee sickness effectively.
Less than half (44%) of employers train managers to handle short-term absence, a drop from 52% in 2015. And just 38% said managers are trained to manage long-term absence (45% in 2015). This can have a negative impact on the level of absenteeism and employee engagement, as there is no clear workplace wellness strategy communicated across teams.
Stress accounts for 47% of short term absences and 53% of long term absences in the UK, while presenteeism – people coming into work when they aren’t well – is also on the rise. 72% of employers have observed some form of presenteeism in the past 12 months.
Employee wellness is becoming increasingly important. As the average age of the population continues to rise and people are in work longer, there’s a greater need for employers to focus on employee health, engagement and ultimately, attendance. This will not only have a positive impact on people’s lives but is integral for business success.
An average of 11.7 million working days are lost each year due to stress related absence, costing the British economy almost £6.5 billion in 2015/2016. As a result, 46% of organisations have increased their focus on wellbeing over the last 12 months, while a third have put a wellbeing strategy or programme in place.
More and more businesses are taking note, yet there’s still more we can do.
By putting a strong wellbeing strategy in place and reacting to employee stress before the point of burnout, employers can significantly reduce the number of absences and boost productivity.
Corinne Williams, Head of HR at Simplyhealth, commented: ‘The key is in defining what underpins employee well-being at work and then embedding both strategic and day to day activities that reinforce these to help employees to focus on their own wellness and increase the overall engagement and productivity of the workforce.’
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