A third of large employers use health and wellness promotions to reduce absence

employee absence

Almost a third (32%) of organisations with 250 or more employees use health and wellness promotions to control absence levels and improve attendance, making this the most popular method among larger employers, according to research by Group Risk Development (Grid).

The study, which was undertaken by Opinium on behalf of Grid, canvassed the opinions of 500 HR decision makers within 500 UK organisations. It found that flexible working is a less popular method of reducing absence in larger businesses, at 23%, but that its popularity rises to 35% among those with between one and 249 workers.

Katharine Moxham, spokesperson for Grid, said: “The larger the workforce, the easier it is to offer flexible working but the harder it is to monitor it. If smaller [organisations] are making this work as an absence-management solution though, there is no reason why larger [employers] couldn’t do the same.”

When HR decision makers at micro-organisations, with fewer than nine employees, were asked, flexible working reached 38%, proving the most common method of improving attendance by 27 percentage points, with health and wellness promotions coming in at 11%, and stress counselling at 10%.

Stress counselling matches flexible working in popularity among large businesses, gaining 23% of the vote, while employee assistance programmes (EAPs) are marginally more common, with 24%. EAPs reduce significantly among smaller employers, with only 11% of small to medium ones, and 7% of micro-organisations, using them.

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Return-to-work interviews are among the least common methods across the board, being used by only 13% of large employers, 17% of small to medium organisations, and 5% of micro-employers. Similarly, disciplinaries for unacceptable absence are used by 15%, 14% and 6% of these respondents, respectively.

“It’s evident in these figures that smaller and larger organisations take a very different approach to managing absence, and whilst that is perhaps to be expected, an area where all could benefit is by better utilising the support that exists for employers, line managers and employees at no extra cost within group risk products,” concluded Moxham.