Firms left counting the cost of absenteeism

Staff absence can have a major impact on small business operations, especially if it means orders are not fulfilled or opportunities are missed.

Research from Breathe HR has revealed that feigned illness is costing the UK economy £900 million annually.

The number of working days lost to preventable absences – such as employees ‘pulling a sickie’ – amounts to 7.5 million days too.

Given that small businesses make up the vast majority of UK private sector firms, they are particularly susceptible to periods of absence, particularly if key staff are missing.

Even the absence of one person can impact on business operations, potentially resulting in financial losses, reduced product development and a decline in sales.

Reasons for absence varied, with 42% of respondents saying they needed time off to rest, while 21% and 19% respectively blamed hangovers and wanting to avoid stressful situations.

Small businesses need to carefully manage cases of absenteeism in order to reduce some of the risks that can accompany a lack of staff.

It’s important to monitor persistent absence and to take action if the reasons for it relate to workplace situations – such as muscular problems resulting from low‐quality furniture for example.

Having a clear sickness policy in place is also essential, as all employees should be aware of the process that needs to be followed and of how absence is dealt with.

Offering flexible working can also help to bring absence down, as it enables individuals to have a work‐life balance.

Small firms are also encouraged to get employees to disconnect when away from the workplace to ensure that they are not thinking about work all of the time.

This should ultimately help a workplace to be more productive, while reducing the likelihood of issues that can result from a lack of staff.

If a business is unsure of its effectiveness, options reviews can help to assess business performance and to highlight areas where operations could be streamlined.

And in instances where long‐term issues are identified, turnaround management can be implemented to aid with restructuring or improving business performance.

By Phil Smith




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