CIPD conference 2010: Sega Europe reduces sickness absence levels

Sega Europe has reduced its sickness absence levels from 8% to 2.5% since introducing a variety of health and wellbeing measures.

While the video game maker had a record of very low sickness absence levels (0.5%) among its 560 permanent staff in the UK, Spain, France, Germany, Holland and Australia, its 300-400 temporary staff who work in development services as game testers had a very high (8%) level of absence in 2008.

Liz Cook, HR director at Sega Europe, said: “The eternal challenge with HR is how can we influence and make a difference. We must communicate to staff what we can and cannot do.”

Since 2008 Sega Europe has rolled out a variety of offerings that target employees’ physical and mental health and wellbeing. These include: onsite massages and reflexology, fruit of the day, free ice cream on Wednesdays, a cycle-to-work scheme through Evans Cycles, and a staff football team that plays every Wednesday over the lunch hour.

Cook advises employers to conduct focus groups with employees to learn about what they value. “Staff seem to value the small things,” she adds. “Do not make huge, formal initiatives. Start small, trial them in pilot areas, and if they are effective roll them out to other parts of the business.”

Besides these very small but valuable perks, Cook has also built on other areas of the organisation’s benefits offerings. Employees have access to a group personal pension plan which is matched by an employer contribution up to 5%.†

There is also a Bupa healthcare plan, an employee assistance programme, a dental plan, flexible working options, and childcare vouchers.

According to the latest internal statistics from Sega Europe, sickness absence levels within the development services employees have been reduced to 2.5%.

Read more on combating sickness absence