The UK workforce has more sick days than any other European country, and twice as many as the US, notes Gerry Brennan, CEO of Cloudbooking, a space management software company that works with leading UK companies.
The exact figures, as calculated by consultancy PricewaterhouseCoopers, are that the average British worker takes off 9.1 sick days annually, with the rest of Western Europe at 7.3 days, while in the US the figure is 4.9 days. The single most widespread cause of long-term absence from the workplace: mental health issues.
“It’s a real economic concern, illustrated by health body BUPA, which reports that over £29 billion pounds is lost annually to the UK economy, with mental health cited again as the major issue,” says Brennan.
“The reports we have read in recent years on mental health fail to take into consideration the workplace’s bearing on many people’s mental status. After all, when you are in a job that you don’t enjoy and feel unsupported and unhappy, the response is to stay away as much as possible”.
Brennan adds that in 2014, the University of Warwick produced a report that showed happy employees work harder, and are at least 12 per cent more productive. “Treat employees well, support them and they will naturally perform better, with less time off sick,” he explains.
Brennan concludes that more has to be done to allow employees more control over how to manage their work and lives. “Allowing a work/life balance for workers means a workforce that is motivated, supportive and genuinely behind what their organisation is trying to achieve.
“Britain’s level of sick absences is inexcusable - it’s time to create a supportive working environment for employees, which in turn will create a ‘win win’ for the UK economy”.