The cost of employee absence rises to £18 billion in the UK with mental health being a significant contributor.

A recent report by FirstCare reveals workplace absence is costing the UK economy £18 billion in lost productivity each year. This has been an increasing trend and has seen workplace absence rising since 2011.

A study by CIPD highlights that UK employers can expect to pay at least £500 per member of staff annually. According to the Office for National Statistics,  “137 million working days were lost because of sickness or injury in the UK.” This is the equivalent of 4.3 days per worker. There are also other costs of employee absence that are non-financial, but still affect profitability such as low employee morale, management frustration and negative customer feedback etc.

The main causes of employee absence:

Mental health is a significant contributor to employee absence in the UK and has increased by 71.9% since 2011. The report by FirstCare reveals that mental health issues within 30-40-year olds are the most common. This is because of increased financial pressures and the demands of balancing work life with family life.

The NHS has the highest levels of employee absence of any sector in the UK. This equates to a cost of £2.34 billion to the UK economy. Healthcare assistants and other support staff had the highest sickness absence rate by a group at 5.90%, next were the ambulance staff at 5%.

Another significant contributor to employee absence is an ageing workforce. Health issues commonly affect most 50-60-year olds, therefore time off to recover from surgery results in a rise of 0.63 to 0.84 days lost per employee which is the equivalent to over two years of lost productivity of an organisation which employees 1,000 people.

5 ways technology can improve employee absence:

1) Valuable Data: Data gathered from wearables can help organisations make a business case for employee wellness programs. Digital devices such as the Apple Watch and others can provide employers with large amounts of data which help to evaluate the return on investment for wellness programs.

2) Monitor absence to detect trends: Using software to keep a record of absences will give you an idea of certain trends of individual habits that would be worthy of intervention.

3) Evaluate real-time data: Using technology whether it be apps or wearables, can help reduce employee absence and increase work-life balance. Evaluating real-time data of employee’s physical activity, sleep patterns and stress levels can help employers to find causes of workplace absence and potentially prevent long-term employee absence.

4) Big Data strategies: Understanding what is really going on with attendance and staffing data across the organisation and how it correlates to other variables will give organisations the insights and predictive tools to fix the problem and optimise internal practices.

5) Use of smartphone apps: There is a wide range of smartphone apps to help with everything from meditation to monitoring pulse and heart rate. These apps apply feedback methods to help users maintain calm, practice deep breathing, soothe tensions and thus improving employee stress levels.

With Cohort’s unique functionality you will be able to reduce your sickness absence rate and the time this takes to monitor, track and control, hopefully allowing more time to be spent on alternative campaigns, problem staff and adding true value to your business. Check our Cohort’s modules and functionality.