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October 4, 2023

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‘More supportive working cultures are needed’ to reduce employee absence – which is at the highest rate in more than a decade

Calls have been made for more supportive working cultures to reduce employee absence – which is at the highest rate in more than a decade.

Research by the Chartered Institute of Personal Development (CIPD) has found UK employees were absent an average of 7.8 days over the past year, compared to the pre-pandemic rate of 5.8 days.

Minor illness was the top cause of short-term absence and mental ill health was the top cause of long-term absence – while 76% of reported stress-related absence in their organisation in the past year.

The CIPD now wants a more open and supportive culture in workplaces. Rachel Suff, Senior Employee Wellbeing Adviser at the CIPD, said: “We need a more systematic and preventative approach to workplace health. This means managing the risks to people’s health to prevent stress, as well as early intervention to prevent health issues from escalating where possible.”

The organisation is calling on businesses to build a workplace where people can speak to line managers about health issues and access support and adjustments, such as flexible working options and health services.

The Health and Wellbeing at Work report, which is now in its 23rd year, is supported by Simplyhealth and this year’s research saw 918 organisations take part, covering more than 6.5 million employees.

Other findings from the research included over a third of organisations reporting COVID-19 as still being a significant cause of short-term absence. It found 69% of organisations offer occupational sick pay leave schemes for all employees and 82% provide an employee assistance programme (EAP). And the number of organisations that have a stand-alone wellbeing strategy – rose from 50% in 2021 to 53% this year.

Claudia Nicholls, Chief Customer Officer at Simplyhealth, said: “With record numbers of people off sick, employers have a vital role to play in supporting them through workplace health and wellbeing services. Companies need to implement preventative health and wellbeing strategies that are supported by the most senior levels of leadership and build line manager skills and confidence to support wellbeing.”

What makes us susceptible to burnout?

In this episode  of the Safety & Health Podcast, ‘Burnout, stress and being human’, Heather Beach is joined by Stacy Thomson to discuss burnout, perfectionism and how to deal with burnout as an individual, as management and as an organisation.

We provide an insight on how to tackle burnout and why mental health is such a taboo subject, particularly in the workplace.


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