36% introduce flexible working to improve absence rates

Katharine Moxham 430

Just over a third (36%) of employer respondents have implemented flexible working initiatives to address staff absence rates, according to research by industry body Group Risk Development (Grid).

Its survey of 501 employers also found that a quarter (25%) have seen their absence rates improve over the last 12 months, compared to 40% last year.

The research also found:

  • 10% of respondents have seen their absence rates worsen over the past year, and 54% say they have remained the same.
  • 57% of respondents say employee absences cost them up to 4% of payroll. To improve this, 28% conduct return-to-work interviews and 17% use disciplinary procedures for unacceptable absence.
  • 62% of respondents that have seen their absence rates improve cite good morale as the main reason for this, and 34% believe improvements are a result of having robust absence management strategies in place.
  • 45% believe the improvement in absence rates is down to fear of redundancy or anxiety about jobs, and 30% think it is due to presenteeism.
  • Respondents that have experienced an increase in employee absence rates believe this is a result of low morale (69%), staff shortages (42%), and bogus absences (40%).

Katharine Moxham (pictured), spokesperson for Grid, said: “It’s important that strategies to manage absence are kept up, and that rates aren’t allowed to increase as it really will have a significant impact on business costs in the long run.

“That said, it can’t be denied that a quarter have seen rates improve, whether or not this is down on last year, and employers are actively introducing initiatives that focus on the health and wellness of their staff. Flexible working can help to retain talented staff, allowing them to balance home commitments as well as focus on work.

“To avoid any surprise costs, and protect against future absences, it’s vital these initiatives are kept up and that they remain a priority. It may seem like a lot to consider in the short-term, but investing in staff in this way will make a huge difference to the bottom line.”