EXCLUSIVE: Centrica launches triage service to combat absence

British Gas Van

Centrica has introduced a triage service for employees as part of its move to a centralised approach to health and wellbeing.

Its My Health phone service, which launched on 15 August, enables employees to go through a triage process in order to access the most appropriate medical pathway to treat the underlying conditions causing absence.

The initiative is the latest step in Centrica’s move from a line manager-led, de-centralised absence management model to a centralised holistic approach to healthcare.

Bekki Andreou, HR category manager, corporate services procurement at Centrica, said: “Over the last five years or so, our absence rates have been slowly increasing, and obviously that puts money on to the bottom line for Centrica because we don’t necessarily have the employees sitting there [working] because they are off sick.

“In order for us to change that trend, we looked at how we could manage healthcare better to enable us to reduce the burden on the business from an absence perspective, along with other things, for example, job profiles where we have people lifting heavy things [and] people in confined spaces, which mean we need to make sure that we are managing healthcare issues as effectively as possible. We decided we wanted a single approach to healthcare and, by this, we mean a single point of contact whatever [an employee’s] health-related query.”

Speaking at Employee Benefits Live 2016

Andreou will share the details of how Centrica changed its approach to health and wellbeing in a session titled ‘Strategies for managing long-term absence’ on Wednesday 12 October at Employee Benefits Live 2016.

She will also discuss how such a strategy can combat staff absence and improve their overall approach to health.

Andreou said: “Without healthy, happy employees, we won’t achieve what we want to achieve. We need people doing what they are supposed to be doing to enable our business to thrive and I think a lot of the time, it is overlooked from a business perspective how important employee health is.

“The go-home message is to think outside the box when it comes to health, [be] proactive instead of reactive. Prevention of the condition in the first place is far better from an employee perspective and from a costing perspective.”

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Employee Benefits Live takes place on Tuesday 11 and Wednesday 12 October 2016 at Olympia National, London.

View the full conference programme and register to attend.