This is a time to examine what organisations are doing to address employee health and well-being. It is worthwhile to recognise that there is correlation between employee health and productivity. As my first article highlighted, healthy employees make productive employees.
The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) purports that “organisations need effective people management policies to promote engagement and attendance and reduce absence” (2017). It is stated that effective absence management is not only about providing a health work environment but also creating a supportive environment for employees with health concerns. Effective returns to work are essential especially for employees who are on long term absence.
It is extremely important that line managers are trained in the organisation’s absence policy and procedure, they understand their role in the process, the importance of absence reporting and an understanding of absence metrics – causes and reasons, the role of occupational health, the existence and purpose of trigger points, the skill needed to conduct return to work interviews and are able to have difficult conversations about sensitive issues.
Early intervention is crucial to addressing employee absence and proactive approaches such as the promotion of health and well-being make a world of difference. The benefits of employee well-being to an organisation are numerous and include becoming an employer of choice, reduced costs to the business, increased employee productivity and employee engagement, reduced turnover and other withdrawal behaviours.
In CIPD’s 2016 Absence Management Survey conducted in partnership with Simply Health, it showed an average absence level of 6.3 days per employee per year. The median cost of absence for employee is £522. There is variation across sectors (private and public) and industries, e.g. hospitality, manufacturing and professional services. These figures are nothing to be proud of and more needs to be done to address this growing phenomenon.
- What are organisations are doing or not doing and are their absence management strategies working?
There are many organisations that are at the forefront of developing health and well-being programmes. Conversely, there are some who do little to nothing.
Here are some actions which organisations can take:-
- The President/CEO along with the Executive Board/senior leadership team considering employee health and well-being as a top priority and not an afterthought. Promoting employee well-being can inhibit problems from escalating further and help develop and maintain a positive work environment where people can grow and thrive. Senior leadership are responsible for the introduction of a well-being culture in the organisation and on consistently developing said culture throughout the organisation.
- Develop and maintain a strategic, integrated and co-ordinated approach to attendance and well-being. In addition, this approach must be employed by all and not just driven by the HR/people management department. It is everyone’s concern and they must play their part.
- An effective absence monitoring procedure which identifies absence causes and trends in order to effectively manage employee absence. Too many organisations are failing in this regard. One cannot manage what is not measured accurately or at all. Any measure of work time lost can be measured in different ways which must be communicated to all employees via face to face lien management meeting, in policy and procedure which are accessible to all in hard copy and electronically. Organisations use various measures including the ‘lost time’ rate, frequency rate and the Bradford factor.
- The development of a health and well-being programme which could include:-
- Walking/running clubs,
- The offer of Fitbits at a reduced cost or as raffle prizes as opposed to the usual chocolates, wine and champagne,
- Reduced gym membership and if permitted, an onsite gym facility,
- Healthier options in the company canteen,
- Free fruit days,
- A focus on mental health,
- Providing clean drinking water in various areas on site,
- Employee assistance including access to an independent and confidential counselling service,
- Corporate social events such as Family fun days, Christmas lunch and summer picnics,
- Opportunities for employee engagement and the encouragement of employee voice through a company newsletter and employee forums.
Organisations show employees that you care and you will be amazed at the results. A person is a living, breathing human being and not a cog in the corporate wheel/machine. The company profit doesn’t generate itself; an organisation needs healthy and productive people to make that happen.
This is your mandate. I charge you to have a comprehensive health and well-being strategy as one of your people management strategies which is built into the organisational business strategy. In management terms, this horizontal alignment will enhance the vertical alignment.
Be healthy and grow organically!
Ms. Jolene King has over 15 years business management and HR international experience gained in the UK, USA and Barbados. She holds a MA degree in Human Resource Management from University of Derby, a MSc. degree in Industrial/Organisational Psychology from Florida Institute of Technology and a BSc. degree in Sociology with Psychology from University of the West Indies, Cave Hill. Ms. King is an active committee member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development’s (CIPD) Northamptonshire branch and is an Associate member of the Society for Industrial and Organisational Psychology (SIOP).