High rates of sick leave are not inevitable

Organisations need to get out of the mentality that high levels of sickness
absence are something they just have to live with, a new book argues.

The book From Absence to Attendance, published by the Chartered Institute of
Personnel and Development, says the variations in sickness absence across all
sectors of the economy simply comes down to some organisations dealing with it
effectively and others ignoring it completely.

Author Alastair Evans, senior lecturer in human resource management at
Thames Valley University, said: "Absence levels that are left to spiral
out of control, soon have a significant impact on the bottom line. To an
organisation employing 1,000 people on average salaries, a yearly absence rate
of 5 per cent costs them as much as £1m.

Co-author, Mike Walters, director of consulting firm Whitmuir, added:
"Prevailing levels of absence do not have to be accepted as an inevitable
fact of business life – Connex Railways managed to cut absence rates by 40 per
cent over four years."

Employees grasp quickly whether or not rules operate in practice or if they
are just part of the management rhetoric that can effectively be ignored.

"Newcomers to the company quickly learn what kind of behaviour is
tolerated so tend to follow the behaviour of their peers," he said.

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