Monday, 12 February 2018

Top tips to help employers win this Six Nations

The Six Nations rugby tournament is underway with the second round this weekend and England’s win!

This may not be great news though for Britain’s employers who are likely to be seeing an increase in employee with hangovers and a rise in sickness absence and presenteeism with matches taking place on both Saturday and Sunday, says Adrian Lewis, director at Activ Absence.
Adrian says,

“A Sunday match usually means an increase in ‘Sickie Mondays’ as people recover from a weekend of over-indulgence and a rise in calls from employees experiencing ‘travel delays’ so they can start work later. Similarly, with Saturday games often see workers trying to sneak off early to travel to the game.

“On the flip side rugby fans that make it into work after a big match could be below par, reducing productively as they struggle to recover at their desks. However, with planning employers can minimise the impact on the workplace and ensure its business as usual over the next few weeks,” 

Adrian offers the following tips to help employers manage staff during the Six Nations:

Reinforce expected behaviour ahead of time – given the intense competition between nations, it’s important to communicate the kind of language and behaviour that isn’t acceptable in the workplace.  National pride can’t be allowed to create conflict in the workplace, so make sure nobody feels bullied and that any workplaces discussions are good natured and inclusive, whichever nation your workplace is located in.

Don’t forget presenteeism – while it’s commendable that people come into work despite a hangover, if they are not capable of working they will damage productivity. Also operating machinery or driving whilst still under the influence of alcohol is dangerous and in some cases illegal.  Decide what your policies regarding alcohol and hangovers are and make sure the policy is circulated and enforced.

Have a clear absence management plan – employers will benefit by keeping an eye on key sporting fixtures for their region.  Remind staff on your policy on sickness absence.  More than half of employed adults believe their work performance is negatively impacted when attendance policies are not fairly enforced throughout an organisation, so make sure sickness absence rules apply equally to management and staff.

Educate your staff – staff often don’t realise that short term absence has a big impact on the company’s bottom line and are more disruptive to the business than long term sickness.   You could subtly discourage sickies by asking staff if they want to book Friday or Monday off ahead of the weekend fixtures (so they know their excuses are not likely to work).

Use return-to-work forms and interviews – sporting sickies almost always have repeat offenders, but managers need data if they want to challenge people who may be taking sickies that aren’t genuine. Absence management software can help spot trends and record data from back to work interviews. Recognising patterns gives managers the tools they need to tackle the problem. Once a pattern of absence is identified they can determine what action to take – and prompt action avoids escalation.

Get rid of staff planning spreadsheets – instead of using spreadsheets for staff planning, which are prone to error, computer crashes and offer zero in the way of reporting and analysis, think about investing in absence management software. It’s designed for the job and will pay for itself in the long run by reducing sickness absence, improving staff engagement and streamlining reporting, as well as giving useful data enabling better targeting of wellness budgets.

Thursday, 1 February 2018

National Sickie Day may not exist but employees still don’t like Mondays

Monday 5th February is known as ‘National Sickie Day,’ when more employees around the UK are expected to phone in sick than any other day of the year.

Employment law experts the ELAS Group first identified this day in 2011, when it estimated up to 350,000 would call in sick on the first Monday in February, however, they now say it is officially no longer a threat to employers.


Instead, the ELAS Group’s latest statistics show increased absence rates on Mondays throughout the year, peaking in January, November and December. The firm also found that absence rates on Mondays are almost DOUBLE figures recorded on Fridays (23.5% compared to 13.2%), according to a survey of 9,700 employees at 81 companies across the UK.

This latest research highlights the importance of monitoring and management absence rates all year round, says absence management expert, Adrian Lewis, director at Activ Absence.

Adrian Lewis says,

“Dealing with sickness absence is part and parcel of running a business, but it can be really difficult for companies to know if people are lying or if they are genuinely sick. This research highlights the need for employers to look out for trends, such as more people calling in sick on Mondays or patterns which might suggest underlying health issues such as stress.”

“Companies need systems and policies in place for tracking and dealing with absence. Investing in absence management software is one solution that can really help companies monitor trends and keep on top of absence rates.”

“Recording absence properly will enable mangers to identify ongoing health issues and offer appropriate support. Additionally, the process of formally recording absence will act as a deterrent to anyone taking a sickie as people know that it will recorded and followed up with a back to work interview,”

Another trend for employers to watch out for is managers expecting people to work even if they are off sick.

Recent research by mouth spray company, ColdZyme highlighted that four in 10 people who have taken time off ill have ended up replying to emails, talking to colleagues and even taking work-related phone calls.

The research also found that one in four people said their boss expects them to still work through a sick day, and more than a third admitted their manager has asked them to pick things up despite being ill.

Monday, 15 January 2018

Is ‘Blue Monday’ the prompt employers need to tackle mental health issues at work?

Monday 15th January 2018 or ‘Blue Monday is being billed as the most depressing day of the year – with the miserable weather, debt and post Christmas blues all considered to be major contributing factors.

While Mental health charity, Mind is dismissive of Blue Monday, absence management expert, Adrian Lewis, director at Activ Absence believes the day could serve as a positive reminder for employers to think about reducing employee absenteeism this year and especially tackling mental health issues.

adrian lewis of activ absence staff holiday planning

Adrian Lewis says;

“Every year, companies report a spike in levels of absenteeism at this time of year.  Blue Monday may not be based on scientific fact, but it increases awareness of mental health issues, which can only be a good thing. It can encourage employers to think about how they can reduce absence levels by understanding why people are taking time off sick. They can then offer support where needed, which can help improve productivity, reduce absenteeism and save money in the long run.”

The Centre of Economic and Business Research suggests that workplace absence costs the UK economy £18bn in lost productivity, rising to £21bn in 2020 and £26bn in 2030. A rise in mental health issues is a major contributor to increased levels of absenteeism.

On average, employees suffering from a mental health-related illness take eight days leave, with two in five (44 percent) taking more than 10 days.

A 2017 Business in the Community report highlighted that three out every five employees (60%) have experienced mental health issues in the past year because of work and almost a third (31%) of the workforce has been formally diagnosed with a mental health issue (29% in 2016). The most common diagnosis was depression or general anxiety.

Adrian Lewis says;

“Tackling the root causes of absenteeism will be priority for many employers this year and it will be important for them to focus on long term patterns rather than single days such as Blue Monday.

“Whilst employers can expect a spike in absence levels in January often due to post Christmas blues, there are days throughout the year where we see sickness absence rise, for example, it is almost always higher on a Monday and on a Tuesday following a bank holiday.

“We advise employers to record and monitor absence levels in a very transparent way. This alone can reduce absence rates. It will highlight trends which will give managers warning signs that perhaps people are suffering from bigger problems including mental health issues.”

“If employers understand the causes of absenteeism they can put policies in place to support their staff before things get out of control. Investing in absence management software can help managers across the business keep track of absence and can be an effective tool to reduce absenteeism in 2018,”