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How to save money and keep sickness at bay

Published 3rd March 2014

The UK economy finally has some colour back in its cheeks after a long time laid up under the duvet, but a proper check-up shows it’s not back to full strength just yet. According to the CBI, sick days are costing the UK economy a stomach-churning £14 billion a year.  How can you protect your people and your business?


First, we need to understand the problem. Our Investors in People Wellbeing at Work Poll (February 2014), which questioned over 3,000 people working across a wide variety of sectors, found that nearly a quarter of workers pulled a sickie in the last year, and more than one in 20 did so more than five times. 46% of employees took at least a day off work last year due to a cold, stomach bug or the flu; 21% had suffered a physical injury, while 20% cited a recurring condition such as a migraine.


It’s easy for the sick count to creep up as employers and employees feel the pressure to make the most of an improving outlook – working longer hours, through lunch breaks and at weekends to get ahead. Working harder and longer can lead to physical and mental stress that can, as the survey figures attest, prove costly – not just to people’s wellbeing but to the health of your bottom line too.

Yet the survey also found that those who described themselves as happy in their role were less likely to pull a sickie than those who described themselves as unhappy: 80% of happy workers have never pulled a sickie, versus 73% of unhappy workers.


Health and happiness, it seems, are contagious. The good news is that there’s plenty businesses can be doing to spread that wellbeing and keep those vital signs in good working order:

  • Create a plan and working groups to improve health and wellbeing.
  • Build an intranet site to highlight occupational health issues, how to spot the signs, and where to go for help.
  • Introduce flexible hours. This was the benefit that would make employees feel most satisfied and valued in their role – closely followed by health insurance and dental insurance.
  • Allow breaks. One in ten employees said a sabbatical would give them great job satisfaction.
  • Take care of the little things. One in ten workers stated that job satisfaction could be improved with complimentary fresh fruit in the office.
  • Take the holistic view. Listen to your team and their own ideas for how the organisation could better support them, and give them independence in their own roles. How much anxiety and stress in your own life comes from lack of communication?

As a final thought, who better to learn from than the healthiest of us all? Eighty-four percent of education professionals didn’t pull a sickie in the last year, and only 3% did so more than five times. All those apples for teacher are clearly doing their job..

Take this further:

Take our Health and Wellbeing diagnostic to see how you shape up and to benchmark your performance.