Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Absence and sensibility

The latest CIPD absence report makes interesting reading, with the average absence days for employees down by almost a day from last year's average of 7.6 days.

There are concerns however that the findings may hide a rise in 'presenteeism', which sees sick or stressed employees report for work rather than be marked absent in these uncertain economic times.

Almost a third of employers surveyed responded that they'd seen a rise in the number of people going into work when sick. 

Time off due to stress has also increased; 40% of employers stated they'd experienced a rise in this in their workplaces over the past year.

Today is World Mental Health Day. As I type, I have just taken delivery of Mind's Job Retention Practitioner's Handbook, which aims to support employers' need to understand by bringing together four leading lights in the field of mental health and employment to offer guidance on the issue of maintaining mental wellbeing at work. It's a slim volume, so there's no excuse for not investing a tenner and some time in reading it. I'm looking forward to learning lots more about how mental health and work go hand in hand.

In these testing times, it's worth keeping one thought close: when we talk about struggling businesses, redundancies and unemployment statistics, we are taking about people. People like us, who fear losing their job more than they fear passing 'flu to their colleagues. People who lie awake at night worrying about their work and ability to cope to the point that it makes them physically ill.

It is possible that a drop of slightly less than a day's absence in the CIPD figures should be celebrated, but whilst there is doubt and potential for unhappiness and stress in workplaces that is impacting on real lives, we should remain aware, too.


  1. Great blog.

    I think we will be looking back at the Bradford Factor in years to come in the same way we now look at forced distribution pay awards. ie creates systemic problem.

  2. Thanks Megan. I personally hope that the means of assessing the cost of absence does change to reflect the impact it has on employees as well as a business. You're right when you say formulae like the Bradford Factor often create more problems than they address when applied wrongly and on their own.