Reduce employee absence, increase well-being

This blog is one of a series looking at how you can drive significant improvements in your organisation at very little cost. Improving Employee Engagement has been shown to lead to step-change improvements in all of the following areas:-

  1. Income growth
  2. Productivity and performance
  3. Customer/client satisfaction
  4. Innovation
  5. Absence and well-being
  6. Staff retention
  7. Health and safety

This post will focus on what is happening in the real world in the area of Absence and well-being


  • The annual cost to the UK economy of sickness absence is over £17 billion according to the CBI. They found that engaged employees take an average of 2.69 days sick a year; the disengaged take 6.19. Engaged employees, on average, cost 3.5 days per year less sick pay. What is the cost of that in your business?
  • A 2007 study that looked at the costs of “presenteeism” (employees working when they are ill, or not fully engaged) found that cost to be nearly twice as high as the cost of sickness absence.
  • A Children’s Hospice who implemented Employee Engagement programmes found that their sickness absence fell by one third, very similar to the situation in US Federal Government organisations where those with the highest levels of Employee Engagement had sickness absence levels one-third lower than those with the lowest levels of engagement.
  • Nampak, a leading plastic bottle producer, achieved a 26% reduction in absence levels following the introduction of an engagement programme that improved Employee Engagement by 5%.
  • Aon Hewitt found similar in 2012 – companies with highly engaged staff report employees taking an average of 7 absence days per year, approximately half the 14 days per year reported in low engagement companies (bottom 25%). Organisations with high levels of Employee Engagement also report significantly less workplace stress, 28% versus 39% for the less engaged organisations.
  • Research by occupational psychologists Cary L. Cooper and Ivan T. Robertson in 2009 showed that the link to productivity doubles when a measure of engagement is combined with a measure of employee well-being. This demonstrates that employee well-being adds significantly to performance outcomes.

 sick leave

Organisations can improve their employee well-being, can reduce the costs of sickness absence, and can minimise the costs of “presenteeism” by putting in place sensible programmes to improve Employee Engagement. These programmes do not cost a great deal and deliver great bottom line results. Organisations win when they thoughtfully and consistently implement well-designed programmes to increase Employee Engagement.