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Staff disaffected by poor absence management

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  • 10/01/2012
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Staff disaffected by poor absence management
Businesses risk alienating their staff by not offering a compassionate approach to absence management, new research has found.

The effect is particularly prevalent among younger workers and can have a significant effect on employee feelings towards the firm and its general reputation.

Professor Cary Cooper of Lancaster University conducted the ‘Sick Notes’ study which was commissioned by Ellipse to mark the launch of its new group income protection (GIP) product.

The provider has revealed that its InteractPlus product will also target absence management and is likely to include early intervention systems.

Its survey found that substantial majorities of workers and line managers believe absence management is an important factor in the way they view their employer and its ability to attract and retain talent.

Overall, almost three quarters (72%) of workers said the way a company treats sick employees has an impact on their feelings towards it.

But this sentiment was most keenly felt by younger people, with 85% of 18 to 24-year-olds saying it is important, compared with 63% of those over 55.

A mere 15% of employees felt it had no impact at all.

These findings were echoed by the vast majority of line managers, with 80% agreeing that absence management affected the organisation’s ability to attract and retain employees.

Professor Cooper said it was clear that effective absence management was highly valued and that looking after people would benefit employers seeking talented staff.

“Increasingly, employees expect their employers to invest in their wellbeing and it is no longer a ‘nice to have’, particularly at a time when there is less headroom to increase salaries,” he said.

“Employees want to feel confident that that their employers have their best interests at heart.

“Businesses should be seeking to embed wellbeing and absence management in their culture, regardless of their size, ambitions or industry,” he added.

John Ritchie, chief executive at Ellipse (pictured), said one of the themes emerging from the research was that effective absence management boosted employers’ standing.

“Conversely, the risks of failing to deal with absence include a loss of reputation in the eyes of employees and prospective candidates,” he added.

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