Employers say improved morale has helped reduce staff absences

A third (34%) of UK employers have seen their absence rates improve over the last 12 months and almost two thirds think this is due to improved morale in the workplace. The new research, from trade body Group Risk Development (GRiD), echoes that of recent ONS Labour Market statistics which showed that UK sick days were down by 47 million since 1993. The employers polled also revealed they have better measures in place to reduce absence and improve attendance; with more than two in five employers (44%) using return-to-work interviews, 36 per cent having flexible working initiatives and 26 per cent having disciplinary procedures in place for unacceptable absence. Employers are also feeling more confident about working with fit notes, with 40 per cent saying they feel they can work with the advice given.

Absence management is a key component of business organisation for employers with a strong majority (81%) of those polled actively recording, monitoring and managing absence.

When asked about the change in absence rates, almost two thirds (63%) of employers felt that it was down to good morale in the workplace but 44 per cent said the fear of redundancy and anxiety about jobs may also be the reason. 35 per cent of employers felt that presenteeism could be the reason for changes in workplace absence whilst 31 per cent cited staff shortages.

Katharine Moxham, spokesperson for Group Risk Development, said: “Absence in the UK workplace is now costing 56 per cent of employers between 1 per cent and 5 per cent of their overall payroll which highlights the value of keeping employees in work and in good health.

“It’s great to see that businesses are wising up to the importance of managing absence in the workplace and the benefits this brings to their business. It is also important for businesses to consider what provisions they have in place to ensure both the employee and the employer are adequately protected in case of long-term absence.”