Just a quarter of organisations achieved their 2014 target to reduce staff absence, so what more could they have done? The top ten most common causes of short-term absence, according to the CIPD Absence Management Survey 2015, are listed below with our top tips next to them for how to reduce this type of absence.
- Minor illness (for example colds/flu, stomach upsets, headaches and migraines). Consider offering flu jabs for employees at this time of year and provide hand sanitizer across the site. For stomach bugs employees should know the arrangements for remaining off site until symptoms have eased.
- Musculoskeletal injuries (for example neck strains and repetitive strain injury, but excluding back pain) Carry out a workplace risk assessment to determine if there are any possible triggers or activities that are exacerbating the condition.
- Back pain Again, a risk assessment of any activities requiring lifting or working at heights would be required.
- Stress Dependent on the severity of the stress, it’s good practice to meet with the employee to discuss a stress risk assessment which identifies particular activities/situations that are triggering stress-related feelings at work. This is also an opportunity to discuss a referral to Occupational Health for further advice and support. In some cases the referral to Occupational Health may be required as a first step.
- Recurring medical conditions (for example asthma, angina and allergies) Ensure emergency procedures are in place and that all staff know what action to take should the worst happen.
- Mental ill-health (for example clinical depression and anxiety) Don’t be afraid of discussing mental health illness with employees and agree plans in preparation for future absence, such as;
– an emergency contact for the employer to call if the employee is displaying particular behaviours
– a process for self-referral to Occupational health or counsellors
– a process for risk assessments
– a process for phased return to work
– a process for requesting support from an external agency such as Remploy or Mind.
- Home/family/carer responsibilities The law allows unpaid time off for emergency situations and organisations often enhance this provision. You need to ensure the time off is tracked to ensure it isn’t being abused by some employees and arrange a meeting to discuss absence if you feel this is the case.
- Injuries/accidents not related to work Ensure employees are aware in advance of what is covered by the company Occupational Sick Pay Scheme, as they need to obtain specific insurance which covers them for particular activities.
- Work-related injuries/accidents Check that your Health and Safety arrangements are sufficient and that first aid training is up-to-date. Risk assessments should be completed for any risk or hazard in the work place.
- Acute medical conditions (for example stroke, heart attack and cancer) First aiders and the wider staff team should know the early warning signs to enable them to seek help early. Some employers hold on-site health checks to check cholesterol levels, blood pressure and offer advice and information in advance, to help reduce the risk of a health scare. Post absence, it may be necessary to consider a phased return or even a rehabilitation programme to support a gradual integration back into the workplace.
If you need support with any aspect of managing staff absence, occupational health management, health and safety, DSE assessments or specialist HR advice, please speak to one of our team by calling 01924 827869. Our sister company FusionHR has over 60 years combined education sector experience and supports SAM with HR advice and projects.