Wrightway Health

Larger firms more prone to sickness absence than small businesses

Larger firms more prone to sickness absence than small businesses according to new research. How does your business fare, and when should you intervene?

Staff in smaller businesses may feel more obligated to stay and work when they are unwell to plug gaps in productivity. Conversely, staff in larger organisations may feel their absence will have less impact on the business. We also see more cases of “chronic embitterment syndrome” in larger organisations, where employees might extend their absence beyond what is necessary.

A survey was recently commissioned by Group Risk Development (GRiD), the industry body for the group risk protection sector. 500 HR managers participated in the research, including 100 who worked at larger organisations (classified by employing 250 or more staff).

55% of participants from larger businesses believed their sickness absence rates were higher than industry averages. Approximately 25% attributed this to ineffective absence management. Staff at the larger companies took an average of 7.5 sick days off a year, a huge increase compared to the 2.8 sick days taken by SME employees. Additionally, it was found that HR managers at SMEs were more likely not to record or monitor absences.

No matter the size of the business, it’s important to have the correct procedures and protocols in place in-order to manage sickness absences efficiently. Whatever the size of your business, losing employees to sickness absence drives down productivity and can affect morale. Building Occupational Health into your HR process has two effects; it helps get employees on a return to work path as soon as it is sensible, and gives employees and staff a clear understanding of how sickness absence will be managed. That means staff feel they can take time off when needed, whilst employees can ensure absences are legitimate and in both parties best interest.

The right Occupational Health provider can help with this, acting as an extension to your business to bring in added capacity to manage sickness absences properly. We advise that as soon as workers become sick, management should step in to offer support and refer them to their OH provider. The quicker they are seen, the sooner they recover and are back at work, hopefully keeping those averages down!


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