Sick and Tired: Two Ways to Reduce Short-Term Sickness

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    Take a peek around your office, who’s got bags under their eyes? A recent poll revealed that lack of sleep is the biggest health concern for 42% of the population, with another 34% experiencing low-level general fatigue.

    Have you ever fallen asleep at work?
    Have you ever fallen asleep at work?

    Our relationship to tiredness is paradoxical, a source of shame, indicating our inability to cope; but also a badge of honour, signifying the importance of our work, for some its become an ‘affordable’ status symbol.

    In reality tiredness leads to irritability, either bad decision making or worse, procrastination, poor concentration and reduced creativity. Fatigue also reduces our immunity leading very quickly to ill health.

    Whilst short term absences have reduced in the past year as people look to preserve their jobs, more than a third of employers claim that absences for long-term sickness increased last year. A recent survey of nearly 700 employers found that 36 per cent of those asked said long-term sickness, where an employee had been off for more than a month, had risen between 2008 and 2009. Long-term sickness is believed to be the most damaging area of absence. It cost the economy £5.3bn in 2008, according to the CBI.

    The same survey found that 45 per cent of employers were dissatisfied with the sick note system assuming incorrectly that a current sick note meant that an employee could not return to work, when in fact a sick note should not be a barrier to returning to work subject to adequate risk assessments.

    Interesting two significant findings were that training line managers helped to reduce short-term sickness absence and smaller companies had the lowest sickness absence rates with an average of 6.4 days last per employee.

    Is there less sickness in smaller companies because people understand the importance of their role? How can we get this feeling of worth into big business?


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    Blog written by team building experts Fresh Tracks.