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Addressing Rising Employee Sickness Absence Levels

James Robb


Minute Read

2 Oct 2023

The recent release of the CIPD Health and Wellbeing at Work 2023 report has provided some sobering insights into the state of employee health and wellness in the UK. While it will come as no surprise that events such as COVID-19, economic turmoil, the UK’s cost-of-living crisis and war have had far-reaching impacts on people’s wellbeing; the report highlights that employee sickness absence has reached its highest level in over a decade, a matter that should be of significant concern to businesses across the country. Blue Circle HR are firm believers of taking a proactive approach to people issues. Here, we take a look at the key findings of the report and how you can respond to them effectively:

1. Prioritise Mental Health and Wellbeing Initiatives

The report underscores the importance of mental health and wellbeing in the workplace. With 76% of organisations reporting stress-related absences, it's vital to proactively address these issues. Invest in mental health initiatives, such as employee assistance programs, mental health first aid training, wellbeing champions, and flexible working arrangements. By promoting a healthy work-life balance and providing the necessary support, you can mitigate stress and its impact on your workforce.

2. Tackle Presenteeism and Leaveism

Presenteeism (coming to work when unwell) and leaveism (using paid time off to work or when unwell) continue to be prevalent issues. Encourage a culture that values employees' health by discouraging presenteeism and leaveism. Create an environment where employees feel comfortable taking time off when they are unwell, rather than feeling pressured to be present. Consider reviewing your company sick pay policy (can your employees even afford to be unwell?).

3. Equip Managers to Support Employee Wellbeing

A key challenge identified in the report is the lack of skills and confidence among managers in supporting employees with health conditions. Organisations must invest in training and guidance for managers to enable them to effectively support their teams. This training should encompass not only mental health but also physical health conditions, creating a more inclusive and supportive workplace.

4. Develop a Holistic Wellbeing Strategy

More than half of organisations have a standalone wellbeing strategy. Ensure that your wellbeing strategy addresses a wide range of employee needs, including mental health, financial wellbeing, menopause, and pregnancy support. A comprehensive approach to employee wellbeing will yield better results and help address the diverse challenges highlighted in the report.

5. Address Menopause, Pregnancy, and Menstrual Health

The report also emphasises the importance of providing support for menopause, pregnancy, and menstrual health. As these are essential aspects of women's wellbeing, consider implementing policies and initiatives that cater to these specific needs. By doing so, you create an inclusive and supportive environment for all employees.

The CIPD Health and Wellbeing at Work 2023 report serves as a wake-up call for businesses to take proactive measures to support employee health and wellbeing. By prioritising mental health, addressing presenteeism and leaveism, equipping managers, developing a holistic wellbeing strategy, and addressing specific needs such as menopause and pregnancy support, you can work towards creating a healthier and more productive workplace. Investing in employee wellbeing is not just a moral obligation; it's also a sensible strategic move that can lead to a more engaged and resilient workforce.

Blue Circle HR by CG offers a vast range of bespoke operational and strategic people solutions to support business compliance, performance and growth; including admin, management, people project support, and management training. Get in touch today to discuss how we can help your organisation reach its full potential.

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