Tuesday, 22 August 2017

BBQ-itis... has it hit your office? Beware this Bank Holiday weekend!

Bank Holiday Tuesdays have a high rate of attrition – whether its down to the after effects of too much alcohol, too much sun or food poisoning down to badly cooked barbecue food, adding to delayed onset ‘Mondayitis’, I’ll hazard a bet that in many workplaces, there will be at least one empty seat Tuesday.  Of those that are present and correct, there will be more than just a few dosing themselves up on caffeine pills, aftersun lotion and painkillers to combat excesses of one form or another!

With such a huge variance in indulgences, as well as absenteeism, the increase in staff absence is predictable, but there are steps employers can take to help.  Actively encourage your staff to have a great time off – safely.  
Ahead of this coming bank holiday:
  • Promote fun activities in your area over the weekend (the local venues will welcome your support!)
  • Encourage your employees to have safe ‘fun in the sun’, with advice leaflets on sun cream (a gentle, timely reminder may avoid sunstroke and sunburn)
  • Get staff to share barbecue tips and recipes to share with staff, which you can accompany with food safety advice on barbecuing without the hazards
  • Make sure that your staff are aware of the safe drinking limits and promote sensible drinking at company events
  • Keep good, accurate records on staff absence, and if you spot a pattern of sickness, software can help you take action.  It may help you spot stress early on, as well as tackling the sickie-takers who cost your business money.
For the HR Managers, working tirelessly through summer’s challenges of annual leave and absenteeism – maybe your bosses will be kind enough to replace your spreadsheets with absence management software that makes the season run more smoothly. 
Good luck with BBQ-tis staff today... you can do this!!

Thursday, 17 August 2017

UK sickness absence on the rise, warns Xpert HR

UK Employers are losing a median 2.9% of their working time to employee absence, according to a new report from HR website XpertHR.  Read more...

Monday, 14 August 2017

Managing leave planning around the world - Europe

Activ People HR are proud to manage annual leave throughout the world - most of the world, in fact!

You can download a list here where you'll find companies using our leave planning software, Activ Absence - and managing sickness absence too!

Obviously managing staff leave throughout the world means lots of different rules and configurations for planning annual leave and lots of different public holidays.  Some companies manage thousands of staff across thousands of locations and Activ Absence handles all these rules within the same, easy to use system.

Here's how annual leave varies within the EU alone:

Monday, 13 March 2017

As new ONS figures show reduced sickness absence, we ask, are employers just scaring sick people back to work?

It seems an ironic question for an absence management software company to ask, but as a new ONS report shows the lowest recorded absence levels since records began in 1993, it is important that employers ask themselves honestly whether any change in sickness absence is down to fear and presenteeism trends rather than a healthier workforce.

Many larger organisations have simply 'toughened up' on their absence management policies for dealing with staff sickness, rather than investing in systems which would deliver more support for unwell staff and distinguish sickies from genuine employee illness.

Here's how HR News reported the issue, with comment from Activ Absence's absence management expert, Adrian Lewis:

Minor illnesses most common reason for sickness absence

Minor illnesses (such as coughs and colds) were the most common reason for sickness absence in 2016, accounting for nearly a quarter of all sick days (24.8% of the total days lost), closely followed by musculoskeletal problems (including back pain, neck and upper limb problems) at 30.8 million days (22.4%).
11.5% of sickness absence was attributed to mental illness (including stress, depression and anxiety) which resulted in 15.8 million days off sick (11.5%).

Older workers and public sector workers taking less time off

Those with the highest rates of sickness absence included women, older workers, those with long-term health conditions, smokers, public health sector workers and those working in the largest organisations (those with 500 or more employees).
Reductions in sickness absence rates over the last 2 decades include workers with long-term health conditions, workers aged 50 to 64, and those working in the public sector, with public sector organisations responding to calls for them to tackle absence after traditionally higher rates than those seen in the private sector.

Staff need to be healthy, not scared and sick in work

Absence management expert Adrian Lewis of Activ Absence gave the figures a cautious welcome, but expressed concern about possible presenteeism where organisations have implemented new absence management policies without investing in new technology.  He said:

“It’s great to see any reduction in sick days, most notably in the public sector.  We know that this has almost certainly come from concerted efforts to manage sickness absence better, and we’ve enjoyed working with our public and private sector clients to put the tools in place to support sick workers more effectively.

“My concern is that some employers are still not be getting the balance right – it’s not just about improving the figures, we want staff to be healthy, not scared to take time off.   Many employers have ‘tightened up’ on policies without any analysis or investment in tools to give meaningful data.  

"I recently heard of a public sector employee with pneumonia, clearly too sick to work, who was afraid of being disciplined under a sickness absence policy, so went into work anyway.  Ironically, the sickness monitoring system being used by that organisation only measured long term absence and could not even identify the ‘odd sickie’ trends which are far more disruptive to the business.
Presenteeism is a very real concern.”   

Nation of ‘mucus troopers’

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady agreed, saying:

“We are really a nation of mucus troopers, with people more likely to go to work when ill than stay at home when well.

“Sickness absence rates have fallen steadily over the past decade, and let us not forget that working people put in billions of pounds worth of unpaid overtime each year.”

Statistics are not always accurate

Adrian also expressed concern about how organisations calculate sick day statistics, saying:

“Many manual spreadsheets and payroll-only systems do not give accurate estimates of staff sick days anyway, so for some organisations these figures will be a guess at best.  In my opinion, a proper automated absence management system with good reporting tools will not only accurately measure absence but will also distinguish between employees who swing the lead and identify those genuinely sick employees in need of support (not discipline).

“The right systems need to be followed up with best-practice HR policies, such as conducting return to work interviews, even for short term absence – with the focus being on support, not judgement.  The resulting analytics can also be used to identify opportunities to improve staff health and wellbeing – and can help make sure your benefits strategy is aligned with these goals.

“Any strategy to reduce sick days should never include scaring genuinely sick people back into work.”