- 22 May 2023
- Posted by: M-author
- Category: Workplace
To deliver optimum output, a workplace needs every resource to be fully operational. When a member of the team is off sick or a machine is broken, it has a ripple effect. Occasional or planned leave can be managed, but when a member of the team is often unwell, it can have a detrimental impact. So, let’s explore how to reduce absenteeism.
How Many Working Days Are Lost to Ill Health?
According to the latest data from HSE* 38.8 million working days were lost due to ill health in the 2021/22 tax year. Of these, 6 million were the result of an injury sustained at work. However, 17 million days were lost as a result of stress, depression and anxiety.
Of those suffering from these symptoms of poor mental health, the average leave taken is 18.6 days. That is a considerable loss in productivity and a lot of extra hours of work that need to be absorbed by other members of the team.
Whilst you, the employer, has a duty of care for the health, safety and well-being of your team, there are financial implications. For a start, you are paying the employees’ daily rate, yet not getting anything in return. So how do you reduce absenteeism?
What Causes Poor Mental Health?
The first step is to assess your company culture. According to the World Health Organisation**, the common causes of stress, anxiety and depression in the workplace include:
- Excessive workload; often a result of understaffing
- Not being fully equipped or trained for the role
- Skills and competencies being overlooked and underused
- Long, inflexible hours
- Unsafe or poor working conditions
- Poor work culture, where employees are bullied, harassed, discriminated against and when raised, these are not addressed
The causes of poor mental health aren’t always a direct result of the workplace, however, the work culture can ease or amplify other life pressures.
Time to Talk
If your organisation is facing absenteeism issues, it is important to take time to talk with employees to understand the reasons that they are struggling. This will help you to identify underlying causes and patterns, which might inform actions to improve well-being.
These conversations need to be led by individuals who are equipped to discuss and address issues raised with sensitivity and empathy. They should also be familiar with routes to internal and external support that they can signpost employees to.
One way of ensuring the right approach is being taken is by providing mental health awareness training for your line managers and supervisors. This builds their understanding of mental health issues and how to respond to team members that are affected.
In addition, training managers in mental health awareness can influence their leadership and encourage a supportive team dynamic that motivates staff and has a positive influence on their well-being.
Mental Health First Aider
I would also recommend forming a team of individuals from all departments and roles to become Mental Health First Aiders. By attending Mental Health First Aid Training (MHFA) they can awareness of what encourages good mental health, as well as the factors that can cause this to deteriorate.
MHFA helps individuals understand triggers and spot signs in themselves and others. It also gives them the confidence to take action to support someone who is struggling. This could be themselves, a colleague, customer, friend or relation. Awareness and confidence can lead to earlier intervention, which can prevent issues from escalating.
A Strategy for Employee Mental Health
Keeping your team in the best possible physical and mental health is the route to reducing absenteeism. Whilst many leaders acknowledge that this is an important issue, far fewer have published formal objectives or a mental health strategy.
In a CCLA Report 2022***focused on UK businesses with 10,000+ employees, 90% provided employees with access to Mental Health services, but only 1/3 had a formal strategy for Employee well-being. The report also noted a lack of monitoring and reporting on uptake and outcomes, so there is little evidence of the effectiveness of initiatives.
Using the CCLA assessment process, involving 27 criteria to assess the company’s approach to mental health, three companies were identified as leading the way. Centrica, Lloyds Banking Group and Serco Group all scored between 81-100%. These companies have seen the positive impacts of investing in their staff.
Whilst this report focuses on large corporations, it is in every business’ interest to champion employee well-being. Beyond reducing absenteeism, prioritising employee mental health lowers staff turnover and recruitment costs, drives productivity, creates a positive work environment and results in better customer service.
Mental Health Awareness Week
Last week was Mental Health Awareness Week, however, this is a subject we need to keep on the agenda. Now is the prime opportunity to plan the objectives for improving the well-being of your employees and reap the rewards of a healthier team.