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'no plans in place' for managing employee sickness

Further to my post last week on long-term absence, I thought I would focus a little more on the subject as it is something a significant number of small business owners are effected by, and worry about, but surprisingly very few have contingency for. More than two-thirds (68%) of small business confirm that productivity and revenue would be significantly affected if just one member of staff was unable to come to work for more than four weeks, the costs of overtime or perhaps bringing in temporary staff, additional training etc. are all factors that can be a huge headache, and often, the smaller the business, the bigger the headache. A study conducted by a leading UK insurer suggests three in ten business owners have no plan for managing employee sickness, linked to this, and perhaps more alarmingly only a quarter of UK businesses say that investment in employee health is a priority for their organisation despite “near unanimous” belief that there is a direct link between the performance of their organisation and the wellbeing of their people. Employees should be seen your business’s most valuable asset, so why do we not protect them as we would with any other asset? We protect our cars, property, capital and customers, against a whole host of potential liabilities.

Business owners that know the value of their employees, recognise that their workers are “critical” to the success of their business, however despite acknowledging this importance, even these business owners are under-investing in systems that could protect employees and their business in the event of ill-health. On average, only around 5% of SME expenditure after salaries is invested in the procurement of employee benefits – an investment that could boost business productivity, revenue and the company profile whilst also reducing sickness and improving absence management. Currently circa 14% of SME businesses offer employees private medical insurance and 18% have an occupational health scheme in place to protect employees, however there are so many health, wellbeing and protection products available on the market, with options from £1 per employee per week, there is a solution to match even the leanest budgetary constraints. However, all this considered, the first step to managing an employee absence issue is, acceptance that prevention is ultimately more important than cure, my next post will provide some insight into the products and services that could be considered by a small business to help prevent a budding or worsening ‘sickness culture’.

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