Sickness absence and illness costs a month of productivity per employee, research has revealed.
This is at an estimated cost of £57 billion a year to UK businesses.
Workplace health initiative Britain’s Healthiest Company (BHC) surveyed more than 32,500 employees for the research. The aim of the study was to examine the true impact of sickness on the workplace.
Companies lose an average of 23.5 days of productive time per employee to illness every year. This is not just down to staff being absent, but also when they under-perform at work due to ill-health, mental health or stress related issues.
BHC also took the opportunity to categorise the general health of the UK workforce by looking at ‘risk factors’. These occur when people fall outside of the healthy range for lifestyle or clinical health factors.
The study found that many employees believe that they are healthier than they actually are. 61% of all respondents suffer from at least two risk factors, whilst 33% suffer from three or more.
Around 60% of those with three or more risk factors believe that their health is good or very good. This makes them less likely to change their damaging behaviour.
Research undertaken by Monster.co.uk corroborates the BHC findings. The recruitment site found that only a quarter of employees (27%) admitted to taking a day off due to sickness in their current or most recent job.
Andy Sumner, Managing Director for Monster UK and Ireland said: “It’s vitally important that employers understand their employees’ wellbeing. Statistics suggest that the number of sick days taken by UK workers continues to fall, yet workloads and working hours are increasing.”
“Job insecurity continues to be a major issue, and employers should do more to communicate with their staff that taking sick leave will not put their position in jeopardy.”
“The fact is that when people are sick and still turn up for work, productivity and efficiency levels drop dramatically.”
You can reduce the cost of presenteeism in your workplace by promoting healthy living. BHC found a positive correlation between companies that invest in health promotion and their proportion of employees in good or excellent health.