For Employers: How to Reduce Long-term Sickness Absence

As a business owner, I can appreciate the challenges and cost implications facing organisations when it comes to handling long-term absence for staff members who are suffering from ill-health (fortunately, for us we don’t have this problem and you’ll understand why that’s the case as you read on…)

There is free help and advice out there for both employers and employees who find themselves in this situation. Take ACAS for example – they provide a wealth of information and guidance on what to do in order to manage staff absence.

But has your organisation actually considered what they can offer their staff either before or during a long period of sickness absence?

This may or may not come as a surprise to you but according to the World Health Organisation physical inactivity is the leading cause of disease and disability. In other words, it is medically proven that people who do regular physical activity have:

• up to a 50% lower risk of type 2 diabetes • up to a 50% lower risk of colon cancer • up to a 20% lower risk of breast cancer • a 30% lower risk of early death • up to a 35% lower risk of coronary heart disease and stroke • up to an 83% lower risk of osteoarthritis • up to a 68% lower risk of hip fracture • a 30% lower risk of falls (among older adults) • up to a 30% lower risk of depression • up to a 30% lower risk of dementia

This is a rather long list of debilitating diseases, which are in a lot of cases avoidable. You are probably already very familiar with the names of these diseases as they are likely to be the medical reasons why your staff may take long-term absences from work.

The good news is the risk of a member of your staff developing any one of these diseases is significantly reduced if they are achieving the Department of Health’s recommended levels of physical activity per week, which is currently set to a minimum of 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity physical activity PLUS 2 days of muscle-strengthening based exercises.

The bad news is most people don’t achieve anywhere near these recommended levels and many more people don’t know that they also need to be doing muscle-strengthening exercises. This could perhaps explain why 8.5 million people living in the UK are suffering (needlessly) with osteoarthritis – the painful and degenerative bone disease usually affecting the weight-bearing joints of the knees, hips or spine.

For example, according to Health & Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC), 49% of men and 56% of women do little or no muscle strengthening exercises during the week. Yet strengthening your muscles, particularly those which support the weight-bearing joints of the knees, hips and spine, will serve to increase the strength of the bones that make up those joints, thereby making it much less likely you will develop this (avoidable) debilitating medical condition in the first place.

If you want your staff to be much less likely to take long-term absences from work or more likely to return to work feeling motivated, productive and healthier than when they left, it would seem a very good idea to start promoting and encouraging your staff to increase their levels of physical activity either at home or at work, if your organisation isn’t already doing so.

The good news is we are available to share our knowledge and expertise with the staff in your organisation to help educate them about the importance and benefits of becoming more physically active and significantly reduce the chances of them ever developing a debilitating disease.

If you would like us to deliver an educational workshop to the staff working in your organisation, please contact us on 0300 030 1033

Article written by:

Nadine Denneth, Founder & Director of N.ableD

One Comment

  1. Posted September 11, 2016 at 7:03 am | Permalink

    It is actually a great and useful piece of information. I am satisfied that you simply shared this useful information with us. Please stay us up to date like this. Thanks for sharing.

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