DOD’s blog: Dreaming in percentages

Having spent the past week buried in data (for both the about-to-be published Employee Benefits/Capita Pensions Research 2013 as well as our fascinating in-depth analysis on how the main corporate advisers are performing in the UK market) I am beginning to dream in percentages.

It is also why I have plenty of empathy for anyone presenting numbers, especially the apparently contradictory surveys from PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) and from the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) and Pfizer that came out this week.

PWC research lambasts UK employees for how many days sick they take each year.

While the CBI/Pfizer survey says UK staff have the lowest absence levels on record.

Dig a little deeper into both reports and between them they show up some worrying problems in UK workplaces. Some of these problems have been a long time coming, but they have largely been exacerbated by the poor economic conditions people are working under.

The surveys show:

  • Mostly, absences are not due to malingerers.
  • Mental health is a growing problem and it needs to be tackled otherwise the impact on business productivity will worsen.
  • Employee engagement is both affected by, and is affecting, absences.
  • Giving people more control over their jobs, such as flexible working, helps reduce absence.

Most of these can be dealt with via good management – but developing managers to have these skills is a whole lot tougher than buying in health services or putting in strict policies.

So will this be another year we see these statistics and decide the problems are too tough, or too expensive, to tackle?

Debi O’Donovan
Employee Benefits

Twitter: @DebiODonovan