Small to medium businesses concerned about the impact of absence on productivity


More than two-thirds (68%) of SME employers are concerned about their company’s productivity due to absence – worrying that it would be negatively affected if a member of staff was unable to come to work for more than four weeks, according to research conducted by AXA PPP healthcare.

While UK SMEs understand the importance and value of their employees, few have concrete plans in place for management of employee sickness.

Nearly three quarters (74%) of SME employers consider their employees to be critical to the success of the business, while 39% call them their “business’s most important asset”.

However, three in ten SME owners say they have no plan for managing employee sickness, and the research suggests they are under-investing in the health of their employees.

An average of only 6% of SME expenditure goes on employee benefits that would both reduce sickness and improve absence management, and also boost productivity. Further, only 18% of SMEs have an occupational health scheme in place to protect employee health.

Glen Parkinson, SME director at AXA PPP healthcare said, “SME owners recognise the potentially significant risk of lost productivity and revenue due to prolonged employee absence. Busy SME owners need to think about developing a system for managing employee absence to help mitigate unexpected costs such as recruiting temporary cover and potential business losses due to the temporary loss of a skilled worker.”


“Small business owners have a million and one things to think about when running their business and health provision for their team can be easily overlooked.  However, investing in employees’ wellbeing outweighs the cost in terms of productivity, morale and wellbeing.”

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