A reputation to protect: managing absence is crucial to employer brand

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As employees place more importance on non-financial benefits and workplace culture than ever before, a compassionate approach to absence management can have a significant impact on an employer’s reputation, according to the initial findings of a forthcoming report commissioned by Ellipse, the specialist group risk insurer.

Sick Notes the report by Ellipse and Professor Cary Cooper, Distinguished Professor of Organizational Psychology and Health at Lancaster University, has been commissioned to mark the launch of InteractPlus, its unique new group income protection product.
Substantial majorities of workers and line managers alike say that they believe absence management is an important factor in the way they view their employer and its ability to attract / retain talent respectively.

Seven in ten (72 per cent) workers say that the way a company treats sick employees has an impact on their feelings towards the company. This sentiment is most keenly felt by younger people, with 85 per cent of 18 to 24 year olds saying it is important, compared with 63 per cent of those over 55. A mere 15 percent of employees say it has no impact at all.

At the same time, the vast majority of line managers (80 per cent) agree that absence management affects the organisation’s ability to attract and retain and employees.

Commenting on the initial findings, Professor Cary Cooper, said: “After asking both employees and line managers for their views, the responses lead to the conclusion that effective absence management is highly valued and winning a reputation for looking after people will benefit employers in the war for talent.
“Increasingly, employees expect their employers to invest in their wellbeing and it is no longer a ‘nice to have’, particularly at a time when there is less headroom to increase salaries.

“Employees want to feel confident that that their employers have their best interests at heart. Businesses should be seeking to embed wellbeing and absence management in their culture, regardless of their size, ambitions or industry.”

John Ritchie, Chief Executive at Ellipse, said: “As we gear up for the full launch of InteractPlus, one of the themes emerging from this research is that effective absence management delivers a boost to employer reputation.

“Conversely, the risks of failing to deal with absence include a loss of reputation in the eyes of employees and prospective candidates.

“Interact Plus is an entirely new approach to workplace absence and recovery and is the first product to combine an absence management system with income protection cover, helping to ensure illness and disability in the workplace is actively managed and mitigated.

“Early intervention, open and regular communications and a bespoke case management system help employers to independently monitor and manage the whereabouts and wellbeing of their people.”
The “Sick Notes” report will be published in full on 1st February. The research is based on two separate surveys of workers and line managers at SMEs. Interact Plus is a new product integrating disability income protection and absence management.

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