Employers are putting reduced absence rates down to flexible working for employees

healthy workplace

Christmas is now a long-gone memory for many – however employers have seen the usual post-festive blues as employees struggle to motivate themselves after the holiday break.

According to figures from Group Risk Development (GRiD), one in ten UK employers have seen their absence rates worsen over the past year – but a quarter (25%) have had improved rates of absence over 2015.

However, this improvement is 15% down on last year’s figures. With long-term sickness absence costing private sector businesses a total of £4.17 billion a year, it is key for employers to maintain their staff’s wellbeing and help them with managing their return to work.

Employers are increasingly using diverse initiatives to combat absence and increase workplace wellness. A growing number of companies (36% - a 4% increase on 2014) are introducing flexible working, while 28% have introduced return-to-work interviews.

Those employers with improving absence rates have attributed good employee morale (62%) as well as effective absence management strategies (34%). Meanwhile, nearly a third (30%) have introduced health and wellness initiatives for all employees.

More negatively, nearly half (45%) of employers are concerned that improved absence rates are down to anxiety about staying in a job, while 30% attributed it to presenteeism.

Katharine Moxham, spokesperson for GRiD, said: “It’s important that strategies to manage absence are kept up, and that rates aren’t allowed to increase as it really will have a significant impact on business costs in the long-run.

“Employers are actively introducing initiatives that focus on the health and wellness of their staff: flexible working can help to retain talented staff, allowing them to balance home commitments as well as focus on work.

“To avoid any surprise costs, and protect against future absences, it’s vital these initiatives are kept up and that they remain a priority. It may seem like a lot to consider in the short-term, but investing in staff in this way will make a huge difference to the bottom line.”