Ford HR boss drives down sickness absence by 83%

Car dealer Ford Retail has cut long-term sick leave among its workforce by a massive 83% since hiring its first HR director.

The company, which employs 2,700 staff across 53 dealerships in the UK, reduced the number of staff on long-term sick leave from more than 40 to just five. During the process, it emerged one employee had been absent for seven years with stress and depression.

Nicky Blatch, HR director at Ford Retail, said coaching managers and visiting absent employees had been fundamental to the turnaround.

“Prior to me joining, there had been very little commitment to people-related issues from the board,” she said. “Many of our managers had very little training on coping with sickness absence.

“We worked with managers to get proactive on absence management, and we instigated home visits.”

The firm, one of Ford’s largest UK dealer groups, created the HR director role in March 2005 after acquiring five new businesses.

Blatch, who had previously been HR director at the Krispy Kreme doughnut chain, was appointed as part of a restructure.

Nicky Blatch, Top Job

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