Timely intervention keeps staff healthy

With reference to your news story ‘Subjective complaints are the biggest cause of sickness absence’ (PersonnelToday.com, 10 June), by concentrating on absentee figures, you only see the tip of the iceberg.

A good employer will seek out factors that might cause problems and deal with them before they do. For instance, as a proportion of the workforce in offices, very few are absent for the reasons Christine Owen from Mercer gives (stress and musculoskeletal problems, such as back pain) but the majority of people are uncomfortable. What is the cost in inefficiency of this discomfort? Is that cost less than the price of the effort needed to reduce or eliminate it?

Prevention pays. As Owen says, good managerial and clinical intervention is the key. But don’t wait until people complain.

Hugh Babington Smith
Managing director
Etcom People Engineers

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