The latest annual Absence Management Survey produced by the CIPD* in October 2011 found that absence within the financial services was standing at an average of 8.4 days lost per annum per employee which was on a par with the transport, distribution and storage sector. Both categories are sharing the highest level of absence within the private sector.
But hasn't the financial services sector always worked hard to engage their staff, and prided themselves on the strength and expertise of their human resources teams? Why then, would they have higher-than-average levels of absence?
Maria Bourke commented, "Before I set up Let's Get Healthy I spent 20 years working in financial services; I was Chief Operating Officer for Citi Group in the UK, Customer Services Director for M&S Money and worked for the Royal Bank of Scotland as Operations Director of Privilege Insurance. It is no surprise therefore that many of our clients are in the retail sector or investment banks and insurance companies. All of these organisations have common business issues to tackle, including:
1. A diverse workforce
2. Being customer service led - means they are fast paced and in a constant state of change to keep up with customer demands
3. All teams are heavily targeted for both sales and service standards
4. The sector is always in the public eye and heavily regulated."
Maria continues, "Many of our clients were previously trying to focus on employee health and reducing absence but times have changed, no longer are aches and pains and flu the top reasons to be off sick. As the CIPD survey highlighted, stress and workplace anxiety is the number one reason that staff don't come to work, and most HR teams have never had to launch a programme to build resilience in their workforce. The biggest failing I see in this sector is the failure to develop the business case".
Let's Get Healthy suggest the following to HR managers looking to start or improve their current employee health and wellbeing provision:
1.Know the reasons staff are off sick and what your absence levels and associated costs are
2.Develop a programme that engages at least 90% of each department. Diverse workforces mean that one method will not necessarily suit all
3.Ensure sustained activity as this is better than a one-off health week. One offs should really be used to launch an annual programme and gain feedback from employees
4.Building resilience is a key focus, helping employees understand the triggers for stress
5.Include something on 'how to improve sleep patterns' and 'energy levels'. These topics are critical in these demanding times No programme should be without a work stream focusing on improving employee resilience.
6.Review your learning and development plans - how much support is given to Line Managers to support their employees and encourage open communication? Encourage training teams to provide direct training to Line Managers.
© Reed Business Information 2013