The majority (81%) of HR practitioners said reducing short-term absence was the top priority for 2006-07, according to the HR Prospects 2006 survey.
Getting training managers to address handling long-term absence (43%) and cutting absences of more than four weeks (42%) were in the top three priorities.
About a third (34%) of the 422 respondents said tackling absence in specific departments was a major concern, followed closely by dealing with a particular cause of absence (32%). Only 20% said improving work-life balance options was a priority. And reducing the number of accidents fared even worse (16%).
…and optimism over absence rates
The absence forecast for next year is predominantly optimistic, according to the HR Prospects 2006 research.
More than half (57%) of the 427 HR practitioners surveyed said they anticipated a serious improvement in absence levels for the year ahead.
However, almost a third (29%) did not expect to see a change in absence levels in 2006-07 and only 8% expected absence levels to get worse.
Half of the employers surveyed (49%) said that health and wellbeing were key business issues and more than a third (36%) said they were committed to developing a holistic approach to employee health in the future.