Sick Staff Cost The UK Economy £77.5 Billion a Year

Figures taken from the 2017 Britain’s Healthiest Workplace survey has found that employees lose an average of 30.4 working days a year due to sickness, or illness-related underperformance.

Surveying close to 32,000 workers in the UK across all sectors, Britain’s Healthiest Workplace evaluated a number of lifestyle, mental, clinical risk and productivity factors in conjunction with a look at leaderships and cultural factors at 167 companies.

What it discovered was that presenteeism is rife within UK businesses, meaning that many days are wasted by staff too sick to adequately do their jobs, forced into work by the expectations of their employers. This loss equates to each employee losing 6 working weeks of productive time per year.

Even though some sectors did perform slightly worse than others, this was a trend spotted across all industries, regardless of the size of the company.

The Economic Impact

Poor productivity and days off sick are costing us a staggering amount of money. According to the survey, sickness-related absences and presenteeism are costing the UK economy £77.5 billion a year.

Perhaps most worryingly, this is a figure that has grown by 6.2% since last year, when it was calculated to be costing us £73 billion a year.

Developed by VitalityHealth and run in partnership with the University of Cambridge, RAND Europe and Mercer, the report points towards presenteeism as a growing problem in the UK, finding that the average amount of sick days per year was down from 3.3 days to 2.7 per person in 2017. At the same time, presenteeism was up from 24.2 days to 27.7 days.

So more people are going in when they shouldn’t be. Which begs the question: are UK businesses doing enough to take care of their staff? Well, not according to figures from  CV-Library released last week.

Mental Health: The Unspoken Issue

Independent job site CV-Library conducted research into how mental health affects 1,200 workers in the UK following Blue Monday and the results were pretty astonishing.

According to the report, 35.2% of UK workers are suffering from mental health issues, with 42.9% confirming that their job was the key contributor to these feelings. Additionally, 70% of people who do suffer from mental health issues said that their depression or anxiety can affect their work sometimes. However, 17.9% stated that these conditions always negatively impacted their working life.

On top of this, for those that suffered, 47.7% actually dreaded going to work, 24.2% said that it makes them feel tired, 8% do actually take some time off, and 7.4% said that their depression or anxiety caused them to stop talking to colleagues.

Disturbingly, 38% of those surveyed said that their employer doesn’t do anything to help their mental health issues, and 34.8% claimed they didn’t know whether their boss would help them if they needed it.

Director of Corporate Wellbeing Strategy at VitalityHealth, Shaun Subel had this to say:

“The Britain’s Healthiest Workplace results illustrate the significance of the productivity challenge facing the UK, but importantly also point to an exciting alternative in how employers can approach this problem.

“For too long, the link between employee lifestyle choices, their physical and mental health, and their work performance has been ignored. Our data demonstrates a clear relationship – employees who make healthier lifestyle choices benefit from an additional 25 days of productive time each year compared to the least healthy employees, and also exhibit higher levels of work engagement and lower levels of stress. As a result, effective workplace health and wellbeing solutions can deliver tangible improvements in employee engagement and productivity, and make a significant impact on an organisation’s bottom line.”

The key take away from both of these reports is that employers need to be more sensitive to both the mental and physical well being of their employees. Putting staff under pressure to come in is not only costing their business money, but creating an endemic mental health issue that is growing at an alarming rate.

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