15th March 2016
Britain’s companies should turn employee wellbeing into a top priority, according to leading HR professional organisation, the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD). The CIPD says that too few firms are currently linking an employee wellbeing strategy to a wider business strategy.
Using absence recording software can make an important contribution in addressing staff wellbeing. This will flag up any issues such as the health problems of individuals, as well as absence patterns in particular departments of a business.
When a workplace encourages employee wellbeing, it is not only the individual members of staff who benefit. The organisation itself is also likely to reap dividends, with less sickness absence and greater productivity from staff who will feel fully engaged. Yet, according to a recent survey carried out by the CIPD, only 8% of companies have a standalone strategy for wellbeing which supports the wider objectives of their organisation.
Counting the Cost of Sickness Absence
Sickness absence is a major problem for Britain’s businesses. There have been estimates that sickness absence costs organisations more than £550 per employee, or a total figure of around £29 billion. Organisations are not only having to shoulder the cost of Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) and their own sick pay schemes, but also other costs.
These include loss of productivity during the time when staff are away, and the problem of other staff having to carry an extra workload. This could also potentially lead to others getting ill as well if they have to do longer hours. Where it isn’t possible for existing staff to cover, the business must also bear the cost of hiring temporary personnel.
Short-staffing could also lead to a risk of deadlines being missed or work being carried out to a lower than expected standard. In addition, it could also have an adverse effect on clients service levels when the key staff they expect to interact with are away sick for extended periods, and this again could have an adverse impact on the business.
Promoting employee wellbeing not only helps individuals, but also brings overall benefits for an organisation. A successful wellbeing policy should work to cut levels of sickness, reducing the various costs and problems which absence brings. However, beyond that it will also increase productivity by improving the health and motivation of staff while they are at work.
Rather than regarding wellbeing as an add-on, it should be seen as an essential part of business strategy. This means promoting good health throughout organisations and taking a holistic viewpoint, so that wellbeing is taken into account when making business decisions.
For instance, this could involve looking at whether a new business policy intended to reduce costs is likely to increase pressure on staff. There is evidence that putting too much pressure or expecting staff to work long hours can be counter-productive, leading to more illness and absence. So these problems and potential costs should be factored into the decision.
Organisations are also being encouraged to proactively adopt policies which work to promote health. This includes organising regular workstation assessments to ensure staff are comfortably seated and ensuring they take screen breaks. Serving healthy food in workplace canteens and offering subsidised gym memberships, as well as offering support to give up smoking, can also help.
Companies also need to create a culture of openness to help address any health problems if they do occur. It is helpful to build effective support networks, with communication so that staff know who to talk to, and wellbeing “champions” who can be approached about any possible health issues in the workplace.
A culture of openness also means combating taboos surrounding stress and mental health issues and encouraging staff to seek help sooner rather than later. There is an increasing trend for organisations to offer confidential counselling or helplines to staff who have problems.
Also within this, attendance software can play a role in flagging up where there is a problem, such as with an individual’s pattern of sickness absence. IRIS FMP Teamspirit software includes an absence recording software module which can record various different aspects of absence, including the Bradford Factor which monitors repeated short-term absences. It also provides software which can be used for conducting and recording absence interviews. IRIS FMP Amity and IRIS FMP HR Professional software packages also include HR solutions for absence management.
For more information on making your workplace healthier and coping with staff absence, download our IRIS FMP HR & Payroll eBooks about Implementing Employee Wellbeing Policies, How to Retain Staff in 2016 and Managing Absence and Attendance.