Grimsby College reduces sickness absence

The Grimsby Institute of Further and Higher Education has seen its sickness absence drop by 50% as a result of introducing an absence management programme.

Peter Barnard, associate principal of personnel and customer services at the North East Lincolnshire tertiary college, said that it expected annual savings of over £210,000 as a result of slashing the number of sick days among its 1,300 employees from 10,000 to 5,000.

It introduced a number of sickness procedures including an absence reporting policy that involved line managers, an HR software system and the services of medical professionals. It has also brought in regular occupational health audits, physiotherapy, counselling services, relaxation sessions and discounted gym membership to ensure a fit and healthy workforce.

"For us as an educational [institution] in the public sector it’s fairly unusual, going to that length," said Barnard. He added: "As an HR director I want people at work performing and productive and this is pretty comprehensive. I’m keen to keep people at work and we don’t let [non-genuine cases] take us for a ride."

Sickness absence now stands at around 3.8 days per employee, down from over 7 days in 2001.

Barnard said this has encouraged the institute to promote the scheme in conjunction with the NHS to other employers in North Lincolnshire. "It’s all about the effect on the bottom line; this helps employers to be more productive."