The survey, produced by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development and Simplyhealth said average employee absence is now 7.6 days a year, with absence highest in the public sector – 8.7 days per employee, compared with 6 days in manufacturing and production.
Employers are increasingly deploying flexible working patterns to tackle the issue. The number using this tactic to try and reduce long-term absence levels has risen by 20% in the last year to 85%. The CIPD said this is significant as between 2010 and 2012 the figure only rose 2%. Of those who have introduced flexible working to tackle absence, 70% report positive results.
Small changes to working hours, such as allowing employees to work 10-6 instead of 9-5 can have an impact, said the report. Over 70% of organisations reported a positive impact on employee motivation and engagement, with 46% also using flexible working to support workers with mental health problems.
Jill Miller, CIPD research adviser and co-author of the report, said: “Changing demographics, including more people with caring responsibilities and the abolition of the default retirement age, means more people are looking to work untraditional hours. Offering more flexible working opportunities also helps to respond to the needs of the UK’s ageing workforce, in which older employees will increasingly need and want to work in different ways and with different hours as they move towards retirement.
“It’s really important for businesses to recognise new ways of working to support a diverse workforce and to retain talent. Hopefully employees will now be able to better balance their work and home demands.”
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