Occupational Health Awards 2007: Capita Health Solutions Award for Absence Management

Category judge: Anne Harriss

Following a successful corporate and consultancy career, Anne Harriss became a lecturer/practitioner and then course director for the BSc OH nursing degree at the Royal College of Nursing. She is now course director for the OH degree course at South Bank University.

Shortlisted teams

Engineering Employers Federation

About the organisation: The EEF represents the interests of engineering, manufacturing and technology-based industries to UK government, the European Union and the public.

The challenge: The EEF held focus groups with 40 member companies, including small and medium-sized enterprises, and identified a range of barriers to managing absence.

What the team did: The team developed an innovative, multidisciplinary toolkit embracing employment law, HR, OH and general practice.

Judge’s comment:
“The attendance management tool developed by EEF provides a manager with a number of checklists and model policies. In short, it is an excellent resource to assist in managing attendance.”

Kent Police Force

About the organisation: The Kent force employs 6,200 officers and staff.

The challenge: In 2002, the Home Office set targets to reduce absence to 64 hours per head for officers and 66.6 for staff, while the force’s rates were 94 hours for officers and 88 for staff.

What the team did: The force carried out a quality of working life audit and set up a working party and the W8wise@work scheme. Absence for officers is now down to 70.5 hours, and 63.9 for staff.

Judge’s comment:
“This initiative to reduce sickness absence and concentrate on positive attendance in a difficult industry fraught with a historical culture is well-thought out and demonstrates a good use of resources among a complex team of people.”

Glaxo Smith Kline

About the organisation: Glaxo Smith Kline (GSK) is a pharmaceutical company with operations in 119 countries. The Employee Health Management shared service model has 54 staff providing advice across the UK.

The challenge: There was no standardised method for managing absence, and no consistency in how GSK communicated with staff and line managers. There was also inconsistency in case management.

What the team did: The team introduced a systematic and consistent approach to managing attendance and evidence-based case management, leading to a significant reduction in long-term absence cases and occupational illnesses in 2006 compared with 2003.

Judge’s comment:
“GSK addressed an inconsistent approach to managing attendance in a pro-active manner. It developed an evidence-based, active case management toolkit for use by employee health management team members (both OH nurses and physicians). Furthermore, a medical disability adviser works with the employee and healthcare provider. Cost savings have been significant – a total of £1.5m on one site alone.”

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