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Sickness absence rates have fallen to their lowest level in 15 years, according to new data from XpertHR.

However, this is probably not a true reflection of the picture of employee sickness in UK companies, says Adrian Lewis, Commercial Director at Activ Absence.

Many companies have found it harder to record and monitor sickness since the pandemic and remote working and furlough might be masking the true extent of absence.

New research from industry body, GRiD of over 500 HR decision makers found that four out of five companies have found managing absence more challenging since the pandemic because of these reasons.

Adrian says, “When employers are not seeing their staff day to day, they can’t be certain if they are truly well and performing at their best. With a remote workforce, it is very difficult to track and monitor their sickness absence accurately.”

“While sickness rates might be at a new record low, it could be because it is easier for people to still work if they feel under the weather when they are in their home environment. Previously, they may have called in sick rather than face a busy commute, but at home they feel they can soldier on – and this behaviour will impact the absence rates.”  

GRiD highlights the importance of companies recording and tracking absence to determine the cost of absence and the productivity losses for the business. They also recommend monitoring the length of the absence to determine when interventions and support, such as Employee Assistance Programmes and wellbeing services, should be used and when group risk benefits are needed.

Adrian agrees and says, “We believe that absence management technology should be part and parcel of any business environment to provide visibility of where staff are working, who is in the office and working remotely, who is on holiday, furlough or sick – all of which helps the smooth running of any business.”

“Secondly, tracking and recording absence using an absence management technology system deters incidences of absence as everything is transparent which reduces the cost for business.

“Thirdly, recording the reasons for staff absence is critical as employers are then alerted to any issues and problems their employees might have which might affect their performance and health in the long term. This can be particularly helpful to employers now who have staff still suffering from Long Covid or believe that some employees might be suffering from mental health issues. The sooner these issues are spotted, the quicker interventions and support can be given.”

“Since the pandemic, managing the health and wellbeing of the workforce in any company has undoubtedly become more challenging. By introducing technology to manage and record staff absence will help companies ease their administration challenges and get a true picture of the health and wellbeing of their employees.” 

For more information on absence management software visit www.activabsence.co.uk