More flexibility for staff could reduce sickness absence

Employers are being encouraged to give staff greater control and flexibility to manage their own time, in an effort to reduce the number of days lost to sickness absence and improve work effectiveness.

According to analysis from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) around 27 million days are lost every year to work-related illness, costing the UK economy an estimated £13.4 billion.

New guidelines from NICE said that line managers have an important role to play in promoting health and well-being at work, and creating a “positive working environment” for staff to thrive in.

Long irregular hours, lack of control over work and discriminatory practices are listed as predominant causes of poor workplace health.

Among the recommendations, senior leaders are told to act as role models for the organisation, and proactively challenge behaviour and actions that may adversely affect employee health and well-being.

NICE said that line managers should also receive training to improve their awareness of health and well-being issues in the workplace and that they should encourage workers to be creative and explore new opportunities that come their way.

Professor Gillian Leng, deputy chief executive and health and social care director at NICE, said: “Our recommendations include encouraging new ideas and exploring new ways of doing things and opportunities to learn, recognising the contribution of each employee and if possible a flexible approach to work scheduling, giving employees more control and flexibility over their own time.”

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