In good health?

No one can predict when someone is going to fall ill or become injured, but employers can help to minimise employee absence by taking responsibility for the wellbeing of their staff.


Employee sick days are costing UK businesses more than £23billion every year, and last year, the average level of employee absence increased from 6.6 to 6.9 days per person. According to research conducted by PwC, British workers take more than three times the amount of sick days per year compared to people in Asia (2.8 days) and the US (3.8 days).


Frequent staff absences are a costly matter and can also impact heavily on department workloads; this can put pressure on other members of staff and can result in low morale and conflict between colleagues.


Donna Gibb, operations director at Empire, a leading Scottish employment law, HR, and health and safety firm, is urging companies to implement an effective health and wellbeing programme that supports happiness and health in the workplace in a bid to reduce absenteeism.


Donna said: “People’s day-to-day lifestyles are a lot more hectic than they used to be; working in a high-stress environment can lead to poor mental health and sickness. It is extremely important that businesses recognise the need to look after their employees and to invest in a suitable health and wellbeing programme. Ignoring the overall wellbeing of staff can lead to high levels of absenteeism and poor performance.


“Frequent absences can turn into long-term sickness, which is extremely costly for businesses. Creating a health and wellbeing programme which is imbedded into the culture of the organisation will benefit both employers and their employees.”


Here are Empire’s tips and advice to employers on how to create a successful health and wellbeing programme, which will in turn reduce absenteeism in the workplace.




Implementing a health and wellbeing programme that is related to corporate goals is more likely to see results, compared to one that only creates initiatives that aren’t linked to the needs of the workforce. Spending time and money creating a proper health and wellbeing culture, rather than just ticking a few boxes, will result in higher levels of employee engagement and productiveness.


A flexible wellbeing programme that supports health and happiness can dramatically reduce absences and encourage individuals to work to their full potential, which will benefit employees and the overall performance of the business.


A wellbeing programme can include: creating a positive working environment, listening to staff and encouraging employee involvement, health promotion, wellbeing benefits, health checks, and health insurance protection.




Mental health problems affect one in four people in the UK each year, while only an estimated 25% of people with ill mental health receive support, according to mental health charity Mind. For people suffering from a mental health problem, the support they receive from their employer is extremely important in determining when they’re able to return to performing well at their job.


Implementing a wellbeing culture that promotes talking about mental health can encourage employees to speak to their employers about any issues, as well as diminish the stigmas associated with mental illness. Training line management on how to manage mental health can also motivate staff to seek additional support, guidance or help.




The current oil price slump has caused thousands of redundancies across the north-east. As a result, many workers in the region are likely to be facing growing amounts of stress in the workplace. An increased workload, losing colleagues, or the fear of being made redundant can put immense amounts of pressure on employees.


Employers and managers play a vital role in helping to tackle work-related stress, and ultimately long-term absence, by recognising the warning signs of a stressed person. If an employee is suffering from stress, it’s important that employers look into their work demands, to see if the workload, job roles, and working hours can be made more manageable for the individual.


Businesses that include stress management, occupational health support, risk assessments, and train management to have difficult conversations in their wellbeing programme, are more likely to prevent stress from becoming a long-term problem, for both the individual and the company.


For more information about employee wellbeing and reducing staff absences, visit

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