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Boorman Review: The impact of sickness absence on UK businesses

21st April 2010

The cost of sickness absence is something that businesses across the UK battle with regularly. For both large and small UK businesses, the impact of employee absenteeism is often felt on productivity, balance sheets, team performance and morale.

A number of recent reports and government actions have placed scrutiny on the need to reduce the impact of ill health on UK businesses and the need for improved employee health and welfare policies and sickness absence management procedures. The Boorman Review and the GP sick to fit note changes are two recent examples.

The Boorman Review’s final report provided a comprehensive set of recommendations for improvements to the provision of health and well-being across the NHS. Although NHS specific, the findings of this report can be applied to a variety of industries, including public sector organisations, the civil service and the wider healthcare marketplace.

The final Boorman Review report outlined the importance of staff health and wellbeing in the NHS and suggested measures to improve staff support, with an emphasis beyond the absence of disease, looking towards employee focussed health and wellbeing, including physical, mental and social contentment. Since completion of the report, Health Secretary Andy Burnham announced that the Government has announced that it intends to make £500m of savings in the NHS through more effective sickness absence management, a powerful signal to the business community that there are real cost savings to be had in implementing robust employee sickness management and absence procedures.

Benenden Healthcare is using the Boorman Review’s recommendations to develop a strategic and tactical model that organisations can use to guide the implementation of total reward and absenteeism policies.

The Sickness absence rates report, developed by Benenden Healthcare and SOLACE Enterprises, explored specific case studies of how six local UK councils implemented absence management policies and their contribution to sickness absence and attendance management.

Subsequently, Benenden Healthcare’s Total Rewards Report explored the value of a holistic approach to health and wellbeing and the role it can play in significantly reducing worker absenteeism, improving staff retention and morale, and increasing productivity.

UK businesses are now recognising the impact of health and wellbeing on the operational effectiveness of their employees. Encouraging a healthy diet, exercise, and development a comfortable workplace environment are just some of the ways that employers can begin to contribute to the wellbeing of their staff. There are now many steps employers can take to manage the mental, physical and social wellbeing of employees. Across a variety of industry sectors, information and support are two key focus areas. From formal health and safety polices to investment in health and wellbeing initiatives, employers are encouraged to invest more on employee health and wellbeing and ensure that their workforce remains active and healthy.

With the forthcoming General Election, we can expect to see changes in the NHS funding, and a recommendation towards the UK society and businesses becoming more proactive in managing health and wellbeing. An opportunity exists for UK businesses to become thought leaders in promoting health and wellbeing, encouraging their staff to have a healthy work/life balance, encouraging their employees to be emotionally and physically well.

 

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