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Can employers combat office worker absence?

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One of the biggest challenges for employers aiming to keep productivity rates high is to ensure they get a full complement of staff in the office each day.

Sickness absence costs individual employers significant sums each year – a total which adds up to billions lost in output across the economy.

And while employers will never be able to prevent office workers from phoning in sick, there may be ways they can reduce the likelihood of being affected by long-term absence.

Fintan O’Toole, director at The HR Dept in south London, has urged employers to ensure that all workers are contacted during and after sickness absence to check on their welfare.

“A return to work interview should always take place to ensure that the employee is now fit for work and to discuss how time lost can be made up,” he suggested.

“Persistent absences may lead to an investigation as to underlying reasons.”

Mr O’Toole noted that absence means work that should be done does not get done, and this has wide repercussions.

It can put pressure on colleagues in the workplace or have an impact on projects, he claimed.

And this can contribute to an overall fall in output and a loss of profitability for the company as a whole.

In his view, the use of flexible and mobile working may be one way of combating employee absence.

“Flexible working gives employers access to a workforce that may not be able to commit to full-time working because of domestic arrangements,” he suggested.

“There is a huge talent pool of men and women prepared to work part-time.”

And if the UK economy is to mount a sustainable recovery from recession, it is vital that businesses have enough workers on the ground each day to make a positive difference.