By Daniel Hunter

Staff sickness levels have risen over the last year but employers are doing more to reduce long-term absence from the workplace.

As National Stress Awareness day approaches (6 November), employers are being reminded that healthy and happy workers mean a boost to the bottom line.

Although the average absence level is now 7.6 days per employee, the number of employers making changes to working patterns to try and reduce long-term absence levels has increased by 20% in the last year, according to the CIPD, the professional body for HR and people development.

John Telfer, Managing Director of Investors in People South, which manages the Investors in People Standard in London and the South, said: “It is very encouraging to hear that so many employers are realising that making a few simple changes can bring huge benefits. It will take time for any change to take effect so we should not be discouraged by the fact that sickness levels have increased slightly.”

Every year 140 million working days1 are lost to sickness absence and employers pay sick pay and associated costs of £9 billion a year.

“Managing the health of employees goes way beyond offering gym membership or free fruit — it is vital that staff feel valued,” continued John Telfer. “Saying thank you, and genuinely meaning it, can be a huge motivator and have a huge impact on a person’s wellbeing.

“It is much more about prevention rather than reacting to a situation. Ensure supportive and effective management at all levels of an organisation and it will lead to enhanced business performance.”

Working with the Investors in People Health and Wellbeing Good Practice Award has been proved to result in greater staff retention and employee engagement, increased motivation, reduced absenteeism, improved HR systems and an increased ability to adapt to change. The Health and Wellbeing Award builds on the content of the Investors in People Standard as there are powerful links between how well people are managed and their wellbeing.

A free health and wellbeing self check diagnostic tool is available via the Investors in People South website which will give companies a clear idea of how they are currently performing. With 20 multiple choice questions, it takes 10 minutes to complete.

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