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04 Apr 2024

10 steps to creating an ill-health prevention strategy

With absenteeism costing businesses more and more each year, it makes sense to help keep employees healthy

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In 2023, the average rate of absenteeism per employee per year in the UK increased to 7.8 from 5.8 in 2019.

Absenteeism costs businesses, on average, £500 per employee annually. With the average number of absences increasing, employers can also expect this figure to rise.

Prevention is better than cure, and with absences being so costly, focusing on employee health is essential, creating a strategy that will benefit a workplace that can employ people across five generations.

Here are 10 steps to creating a successful prevention strategy to help employees stay healthy.

1. Understand employees

There could be five generations of people within your business, and they’ll have different health needs and interests.

2. Identify patterns

When discussing ill-health prevention strategies, it’s essential to remember that it’s not just about physical health. Mental ill-health accounts for 63% of long-term sickness absences (four weeks or more).

  • Are the stress levels in your business high?
  • What are the common reasons given for employee absences?

Mind and body are connected. Financial worries lead to stress, which can cause physical illness, so financial wellbeing should also be part of your prevention strategy.

3. Define your ambitions

  • Would your employees benefit from being more active and adopting a better work-life balance?
  • Is poor mental health prevalent?

Whether you need to focus on one or multiple areas, define goals to measure your strategy’s success.

If you want to keep the older employees healthier for longer, reduce overall absenteeism, encourage the younger generations to adopt healthier lifestyles or increase employee motivation, engagement, and happiness, you can do it all by setting measurable KPIs.

4. Research

There are many health-boosting employee benefits available, including corporate gym membership, online GPs, employee assistance programmes, cycle-to-work schemes and more.

Use data gathered on your employees to determine which benefits are most likely to make a positive impact in preventing ill-health.

5. Longevity and sustainability

Your employee health prevention strategy must be sustainable in the long term because most benefits require financial investment.

A cycle-to-work scheme will bring your business tax and NIC savings, which you can use to fund other health benefits. Cost-neutral employee benefits can future-proof your strategy.

6. Education and awareness

Education and awareness are an essential part of any health prevention strategy. Provide resources, courses and access to information on ways to adopt healthier lifestyles, from eating better, getting active, drinking less alcohol and quitting smoking.

7. Create the culture

Employee wellbeing should be more than a tick-box exercise. Embed wellbeing and healthy living into your core values, encouraging balance, boundaries, and engagement.

8. Provide the benefits

Once you’ve got everything in place, add preventative employee benefits into your business, ensuring you’re providing support for your employees’ physical, mental, and financial wellbeing.

9. Excite and engage

It’s not enough to inform your employees of what’s available. You must consistently communicate and engage, using a variety of channels to reach your whole workforce. Roadshows are a great way to get employees excited about your benefits package.

10. Monitor and review

Things change, so monitoring the uptake and cost-effectiveness of your employee benefits is essential. Always refer back to those initial ambitions, measure results against your KPIs, investigate gaps and collaborate with your employee benefits partner to ensure you explore all avenues available.

The workforce is ageing, absenteeism is rising, and the cost of living remains high. An effective employee ill-health prevention strategy will support and retain top talent, helping your people and business thrive.

In partnership with Pluxee UK

Pluxee UK, is a leading employee benefits and engagement partner that opens up a world of opportunities to help people enjoy more of what really matters in their lives.

Contact us today