Successful workshop explores innovation in absence management

Friday 18th July 2014

Gordons employment & HR consultancy team recently hosted a workshop on the impact of absence in the workplace in partnership with health and wellbeing intermediary The Private Health Partnership (PHP).

The interactive session took place on Wednesday 16 July and the feedback received from delegates including Morrisons, Provident Financial, Northern Rail, Cafcass, ACAS and others has been fantastic.

Sheena Pickersgill, HR consultant at Gordons said: “Sickness absence costs the UK economy approximately £32 billion per annum so any action taken to reduce absence also lowers costs, both financial and operational, to the business. Our seminar looked at how we develop an attendance culture by looking at innovative approaches to health and well –being.”

Philip Paget, employment partner at Gordons said: “The workshop looked at best practice and also, effective practices to minimise the impact on business of sickness absence.  We discussed developing an absence management policy, best practices in the short, medium and long term and the financial aspects to take into consideration.  There was some great interactions and contributions from those attending which was encouraging to see.”

The discussions threw up some interesting key points including:

  • The need to focus positive attention on the 98% of the workforce who render good attendance rather than the much more negative approach of just looking at the 2% who don’t;
  • The fact that managers all too often don’t carry out return to work interviews;
  • The idea of randomly substituting the employee’s own line manager with the next level up line manager to conduct the return to work interview in order to get maximum benefit from the RTW and to keep employees on their toes;
  • The risk of promoting a culture of presentism through an incorrectly focussed absence policy, i.e. people attending at work when they are not fit to do so just because they feel they have to despite their obvious ill health;
  • The arguably negative impact of an attendance bonus culture – once the bonus is lost then it is a double whammy as there is then no incentive to render good attendance at all;
  • The benefits of having an in-house physiotherapist in a large warehousing and distribution operation to be able to immediately address the impact of regular muscular-skeletal injuries;
  • The benefits of an occupational health professional sitting in with managers at sickness absence review meetings;
  • The fact that statistically the longer employees are off with stress then the longer their stress absence will last justifies the immediate involvement at the outset of stress absence of professionals to assist individuals dealing with stress and that such a service is commercially available now to organisations;
  • Outsourcing the initial sickness absence call so that all sickness absence calls are dealt with by an OH professional.

All in all it was a tremendous session and we look forward to receiving similar valuable contributions at our future events.  If you are interested in attending any future employment related workshops, please click here to see our schedule of workshops for 2014/15.

To find out more and help your business reduce the cost of absence, contact Sheena Pickersgill, HR Consultant on 0113 227 0394 or at or Philip Paget, employment partner on 0113 227 0212 or at