Should employers support employee health beyond simply managing absence? Welfare reform and the sickness absence review have placed employers right in the center of managing absence. According to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) Absence Management report 2011, the average number of days taken sick by staff in the UK was 7.7, costing an average of £6,783 per employee per year and UK employers a total of £12.2 billion. Loss of productivity is seen as the single most important cost of employee absence, more than the cost of the sick pay itself and the cost of hiring cover. As a result, a survey by the CBI last year showed that three-quarters (74%) of employers now consider improving employee well-being to be a priority for the next year.
Implementing and maintaining health benefits is less costly to businesses than trying to pay cash. In fact, the perception of the value of health benefits among staff commonly exceeds their actual cash value. Employers that are committed to improving staff health send a positive message about their work culture, enhancing their reputation and helping to attract good candidates, as well as helping to retain valued employees.