London Underground reduces sickness absence

London Underground (LU) has reduced sickness absence rates by 40% among staff attending stress workshops. It has also helped employees lose weight following a wellness programme. LU introduced a range of health initiatives after a survey of 12,000 staff revealed they were generally heavier and more inactive than the general public.

Dr Olivia Carlton, head of occupational health at Transport for London, said: “We’ve got people whose nutrition isn’t that good and who don’t take regular exercise.” Stress and musculoskeletal problems were the main causes of sickness absence.

Consultant EJT Associates ran a six-week stress reduction group for staff with stress symptoms. Absence rates during the programme initially fell by 80%. “People who undoubtedly would have lost their jobs have turned their lives around,” said Carlton.

But she added that absence levels were now down 40%, rather than the 80% initially achieved. Around 100 employees also took part in a company-funded weight loss programme run by staff volunteers, where participants shed an average of 2kg. employees. LU also organised 13 health fairs across London.