Reducing sick leave – Looking after employees’ long term health
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The second part of our healthy office series looks at measures that HR departments can put in place in order to reduce the chances of employees developing long term health problems.

Government report revealed that in 2013 131 million working days were lost to sickness, 47 million fewer than was recorded 10 years previously. Although absence is falling, sickness is still an expensive outgoing for businesses and costs the economy over £29 billion a year, making it imperative that businesses help to combat the chances of their employees developing long term health problems.

Treatments you can supply and preventative measures to put in place

Eyesight - If an employee’s role involves heavy computer use, you must remind them of the importance of looking after their eyesight. There are few small measures you can put in place to ensure that you are doing all you can to look after the eyesight of your employees.

1. Ensure that all employees have the brightness of their computer screen set to a suitable level. A screen which is too bright can cause the eyes to strain, which can result in headaches and damaged eyesight.

2. Employees should also aim to look away from their screen to a far point in the room every 20 minutes, for 20 seconds. This relaxes the focus muscles within the eye and prevents eye fatigue.

3. Heavy computer use can damage eyesight so it is important to urge employees to have their vision tested at least once a year to avoid making any existing problems worse. If possible, offer employees free eye tests or reimburse them for any eye test they have.

Mental health - Stress is one of the most common reasons for long term sick leave, so it is vital that you are looking after your employees’ mental, as well as physical health. Whilst stress and anxiety is a complex condition which does not have a specific trigger, there are still certain procedures you can put in place to ensure that your employees’ are less likely to suffer from stress due to work. 

1. As much as it is in your power to do so, make sure employees are not over working themselves. Encourage your staff to stick to working hours and make the time they have within the working day as productive as possible.

2. Ensure that every employee has the right equipment to allow them to complete their work.

3. All targets must be reasonable and achievable, make sure to review them appropriately to allow for any changes in situation.

4. Put in place structures and hierarchies; this will provide staff with a clear understanding of their individual duties and responsibilities.

5. Ensure that teams are working well together, and that there are proper procedures in place for reporting problems and disagreements between staff members.

It is also vital that you have the correct procedures put into place to help an employee that is suffering from stress.  Make sure that every staff member knows who they must report problems to, and ensure that there are measures in place to support staff as they resolve any issues they may have.

Ensuring that your staff are happy and healthy will ensure a better quality of work as well as a more positive and productive working environment. Not only will this reduce your company’s outgoings on sickness absence, but will also install a positive sentiment in your company, as businesses that make an effort to look after their staff typically have a lower staff turnover.

Ashleigh Harman writes for Harris and Ross a leading physiotherapy group based in the North West, their specialists work to help patients recover from injuries using the best methods in diagnostics, rehabilitation and conditioning.