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Latest News
22 Jan 2018

Survey highlights productivity lost through sickness absence and presenteeism

New research highlights the importance of employee health and wellbeing strategies, with UK employees losing an average of six working weeks (30.4 working days) of productive time every year due to taking time off sick and underperforming when at work as a result of ill-health.

According to the 2017 Britain´s Healthiest Workplace survey, which included almost 32,000 workers across all UK industries, this loss of productivity related to physical and mental health issues is costing the UK economy an estimated £77.5bn a year.

What´s more, the problem seems to be getting worse. The same survey in 2016 found that employees lost an average of 27.5 days, with a cost to the economy of £73bn.

Although the time missed by the average employee through absence reduced from 3.3 days to 2.7 days in 2017, this was more than offset by an increase in presenteeism (24.2 days to 27.7 days).

Developed by VitalityHealth, Britain´s Healthiest Workplace is conducted in partnership with the University of Cambridge, RAND Europe and Mercer.

“For too long, the link between employee lifestyle choices, their physical and mental health, and their work performance has been ignored,” commented Shaun Subel, director of Corporate Wellbeing Strategy at VitalityHealth. “Our data demonstrates a clear relationship — employees who make healthier lifestyle choices benefit from an additional 25 days of productive time each year compared to the least healthy employees, and also exhibit higher levels of work engagement and lower levels of stress. As a result, effective workplace health and wellbeing solutions can deliver tangible improvements in employee engagement and productivity, and make a significant impact on an organisation´s bottom line.”

Chris Bailey, partner at Mercer Marsh Benefits, added: “Some employers still doubt the impact of presenteeism, dismiss the data, and fail to take action. It´s key to understand that people are not machines — we are not 100% task focused and performing at our best all of the time.

“It is not a case of having a presenteeism problem or not. All organisations will see a reduction in how productive their people are when they are experiencing physical or mental health issues. The data shows that those organisations who understand this and take steps to maximise their employees´ productive time at work, for example through supporting an active workforce, promoting good nutrition and enabling positive mental health, enjoy a competitive advantage.”

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