18th May 2016
We all know that sickness absence is a fact of business life. But while most companies will be aware of just how much sickness absence costs, many may have no clue how much they could save just by stepping in early.
Explaining the advantages of early intervention and highlighting business benefits that provide built-in, early intervention expertise is an ideal way to support your clients while potentially growing your own business.
So what are the facts your clients need to know?
1. The high cost of absence
Sickness absence costs UK businesses billions every year. But in more tangible numbers, companies employing more than 500 people face costs of over £770,000 a year.1 Across businesses of all sizes, the CIPD suggests sickness absence costs just over £600 per person.2
2. It’s a growing problem
People are typically working to a greater age while the state pension age continues to increase. As the number of older employees grows, so does the likelihood of illness and injury. In fact, sickness absence costs are predicted to rise by 4% by 2030.3
3. Mental health, including stress, is the top cause of absence
Currently, 33% of GP’s fit notes are for mental health issues4, while 40% of companies reported a rise in mental health problems.5 In an ever-connected world, it’s harder than ever to switch off from work - meaning there’s no hiding place from the pressures of the workplace.
4. Early intervention is a powerful tool in wellbeing strategy
Many companies’ health and wellbeing strategy understandably concentrate on prevention. But services that allow employers to step in at the first signs that an employee is struggling with a health problem can stop a short-term issue from becoming a long-term problem - or even stop sickness absence from happening at all.
5. A faster return to work
By providing access to early intervention services, employers can reduce the length of absence by 17% - rising to 18% for mental health problems. In practice, this means a potential absence of 7 months could be reduced to 6.6
6. It gives back to businesses
A business benefit like Income Protection can provide an average payback of £61 for every £100 spent on the policy in savings on replacement salary costs, reduced loss of productivity and the lessened need to recruit and train new staff. This rises to £66 if employees actively use the early intervention support available.7
Discussing early intervention with clients:
1. Identify the barriers
Typically, employers wait until an employee has been off for weeks or even months before contacting their benefits provider. By being proactive sooner, the employee is less used to being off work and any rehabilitation needed can start earlier, speeding recovery. Remember too that new HR staff may be unaware of the extra services some business benefits provide.
2. Highlight the benefits of early intervention
Each day someone is off sick, it costs their employer money. Our above 6 reasons why early intervention should be part of any company’s wellbeing strategy make a powerful and compelling argument.
3. Get buy-in from senior staff
It’s often line managers and HR professionals that deal with sickness absence. But it’s important that senior staff understand exactly how much absence costs the company and what challenges absence brings. Ensuring there’s an appetite at a senior level to include it as part of a company-wide business plan can be key.
4. Develop the HR relationship
An ongoing relation with your client’s HR team can help identify possible candidates for early intervention services. Whether that’s a chat during the policy’s anniversary or a monthly catch-up on employee absence, or even periodic training on how and when to use early intervention, a collaborative approach can help both employer and employee.
5. One size doesn’t fit all
Every business is different, so you should ensure you know where the gaps are in your client’s knowledge and what will work for them. Finding out what early intervention services your provider includes in your clients’ benefits portfolio positions yourself as the expert in your field.
1"The Benefits of Early Intervention" by Centre for Economics and Business Research, commissioned by Unum - October 2015
2"Absence Management Annual Survey Report", CIPD - 2014
3"The Benefits of Early Intervention" by Centre for Economics and Business Research, commissioned by Unum - October 2015
4DWP - June 2013
5"Absence Management Annual Survey Report", CIPD - 2014
6"The Benefits of Early Intervention" by Centre for Economics and Business Research, commissioned by Unum - October 2015