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Understanding the Cost of Employee Absence report

Employee absence cost the UK economy a staggering £14 billion in 2012*. Reducing the amount of down time employees have due to illness or injury would undoubtedly reduce this figure significantly.

Some absence due to minor illness or injury is inevitable and for the most part can be managed by employees taking a common sense approach to self treatment. Other illnesses or injuries, however, benefit from some form of rehabilitation intervention and the key is ensuring that those employees who need support services can access them quickly.

Early intervention dramatically improves return to work rates (RTW) but requires an in-depth understanding among HR professionals about the services their employees can access, their role in supporting returning employees and the critical part they have to play in ensuring absence management best practice in their organisation.

Too often businesses do not appreciate the impact improving RTW rates can have on their bottom line and the onus is on HR professionals to make the case for investment in this area. To do that HR professionals must have a solid grasp of the volume, nature and trend of employee absence within their organisation so that they can demonstrate where savings can be made and what additional investment, if any, is required to achieve these. 

Reducing the cost of absence for an organisation does not necessarily equate to increased spending however. Smarter use of existing services, better visibility of absence trends and the involvement of HR professionals in the purchase of Employers’ Liability (EL) insurance can have a huge impact. 

The research QBE conducted in the second quarter of 2014 among senior HR professionals from businesses of all sizes across the UK paints a worrying picture. The lack of awareness of the cost of absence is surprising and one can only assume it is hindering best practice within the organisations surveyed. 

In the following report we consider the research findings, provide some insights into why managing absence is so important and the value of rehabilitation intervention. We will also offer advice on how to assess and structure the services that will help get employees back to work as quickly as possible.

Rosie Hewitt
Rehabilitation Manager
QBE European Operations

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