Blue Flower

Alarm raise

 Data and trends from the ONS and CIPD on sickness absence...


• 131 million days were lost due to sickness absences in the UK in 2013

• Minor illnesses were the most common reason given for sickness absence but more days were lost to back, neck and muscle pain than any other cause

• Mental health problems such as stress, depression and anxiety contributed to a significant number of days of work lost in 2013, at 15.2 million days

• These mental health problems exclude things such as manic depression and schizophrenia which are grouped as serious mental health problems and accounted for just 1% of the reasons given for sickness

• Sickness absence rates have fallen for both men and women since 1993 with men consistently having a lower sickness absence rate than women

• Women were 42% more likely to have time off work through sickness than males

• As people get older they are more likely to develop health problems and sickness absence rates tend to increase with age, around 2.0% and 2.8% of hours were lost to sickness for those workers aged 35 to 49 and 50 to 64, respectively

• Sickness absence has fallen for all age groups since 1993, but has fallen least for those aged 65

• Sickness absence is lowest for Managers, Directors and Senior Officials


• In 2013 the average level of sickness was 7.6 days per employee per year

• In the public services sector it was 8.7 days per employee per year

• Overall, two-thirds of working time lost to absence is accounted for by short-term absences of up
to seven days

• Just under half of absence in the public sector is short term, compared with over three-quarters in the private sector

• The annual median cost of absence per employee was £595

• The public sector is more likely than the private to rank stress, mental ill-health and musculoskeletal injuries among their top five causes of short- and long-term absence

• Two-fifths report that stress- related absence has increased over the past year for the workforce as a whole

• One-fifth report it has increased for managers and one in eight that it has increased for senior managers

• Public sector organisations were most likely to report that stress-related absence has increased

• Workload was ranked the most common 
cause of stress followed by management style

• Two-fifths of organisations have noticed an increase in reported mental health problems among employees 
in the past 12 months

• The public sector is particularly likely to report an increase


• Half of employees said they have noticed an increase in workloads in their organisation over the last 12 months

• This figure increases to 63% in the public sector

• Just under half of employees said they have seen an increase in stress over the past year, which is again more common in the public sector (60%)

• People working longer hours, and an increase in pressure to meet targets were reported by 35%

• 16% said they feel under excessive pressure every day

• Just under a quarter (23%) experience this pressure once or twice a week

• The main reason for feeling under excessive pressure was reported to be workload, followed by pressure to meet targets, management style and poorly managed change/ restructuring

• 67% of employees said they personally have gone into work in the past 12 months when they were genuinely ill rather than take the day off sick

• Just under half (48%) said being under too much pressure at least once a month makes them feel anxious or depressed


CIPD 2013a. Absence Management Annual Survey Report 2013. Online: Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) & Simply Health.

CIPD 2013b. Employee Outlook - Focus on Employee Well-Being. Online: Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development.

ONS 2014. Sickness Absence in the Labour Market, February 2014. Online: Office for National Statistics.

My good friend Dr Jan Goss provides an overview of Mindfulness, and how it can help with our Well-being...

Mindfulness is unavoidable at the moment! It pops up in the media, on BBC TV and radio, in the daily broadsheets, popular magazines, and in 1000’s of books on the subject. It is being heralded as a remedy for insomnia, an aid to focus and concentration, a technique to improve engagement, work satisfaction, and productivity. It is also used to reduce stress and combat depression and anxiety by relaxing the mind and body and in turn increasing emotional resilience.

So what is mindfulness? It is a calm and clear state of mind, the result of letting go of anxieties by simply bringing our

Lark or an Owl? Circadian Rhythms

Sleep patterns, working around the clock, different types of light, and our personality type all impact on our sleeping habits; and Well-being.

barn owl 250

The time of day when a person functions at their best, or their 'Chronotype,' has been a subject researchers have been interested in for some time, and is particularly relevant for those who work 24/7.  Broadly split into 'Larks' and 'Owls', knowing your own type can assist you to lead a healthier lifestyle. It seems our 'Circadian Rhythm' is born out of our instinct to feed, 'early bird catches the worm' and all that. The rhythm is set by our reaction to day and night (light), our 'body clock', with some of us

Taking leave of our sickness - a new perspective

During a Well-being intervention study, Ian Hesketh and Prof Cary Cooper from Lancaster University Management School introduce the concept of Leaveism.

The effectiveness on Well-being interventions in the Policing arena is a relatively under-explored area of management science. The current [UK] economic climate has brought unprecedented challenges to the Police Service; along with many other public sector bodies. In a study to establish to what extent Leadership and Resilience impacts on Police Well-being, researchers uncovered a phenomenon they coined as 'Leaveism' to describe a lacuna in current thinking on responses to sickness and overload in the workplace.

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