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UK workers are recording record sick days – but why? 

Sick employee company wellbeing

It’s that time of the year; flu season has just begun and an unpleasant strain of Covid-19 seems to be doing the rounds. After back-to-school time when parents battle bugs dragged home by their children, the winter months are always a busy time for sick days logged, meaning the company wellbeing is more relevant than ever.   

Absence from work due to illness has increased to an average 7.8 days a year for UK workers, a 34% increase over the pre-pandemic figure of 5.8 days. This is the highest level in over a decade, according to The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD)’s 2023 survey. 

It makes sense to point the finger at Covid-19, but survey respondents said mental health concerns were the top cause of long-term absence, followed by musculoskeletal issues. Some 76% of organisations reported stress-related absences. 

Workers have different stressors 

Of course, everyone has different stresses in their lives – and a shared feeling of despair over news events and the cost of living crisis plays a role – but ultimately heavy workloads were identified as the most common cause for stress leave. 

The report calls on managers and senior leaders to invest in genuine change and address the workplace wellbeing paradox with preventative health and wellbeing strategies.  

It recommends that companies support employees with health issues like chronic pain, menopause transition, menstrual wellbeing and pregnancy loss, and to consider caring responsibilities to boost overall employee engagement.  

Senior leadership’s focus on wellbeing has waned since the worst days of the pandemic, though it is still higher than pre-pandemic figures. Some 53% of respondents say their organisation has a standalone wellbeing strategy, compared to 40% in 2019, while 50% say they act flexibly on an adhoc basis according to employee needs.  

A third of leaders say when it comes to workplace wellbeing their organisation is more reactive than proactive, acting when sick leave arises rather than actively promoting wellbeing strategies. And just 30% of organisations say managers are trained to support employees who return to work after extended absences.  

Still, both management and employees are on the same page and keen for improvements. Employee wellbeing is on 69% of leaders’ agendas, and 64% of employees are keen to engage with health and wellbeing initiatives.   

Formal wellbeing support varies widely, though 82% of respondents say their organisation offers an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) and an impressive 77% offer access to counselling services too.  

However, given the heavy workloads, the report recommends that line managers check in regularly with their team, look for early signs of poor wellbeing and refer to experts when needed. Building relationships and proactively offering support one-to-one can be the most straightforward and human way to support employees during difficult times.   

Unimpressed by your company’s approach to employee wellbeing? Perhaps it’s time for something new. The UKTN Job Board has new roles uploaded every week, like these three below. 

New jobs this week

UK QE&C lead, Leidos, remote 

Leidos is hiring a Quality engineering & control lead (QE&C) to report to the UK QE&C manager to support the implementation of an Integrated Management System and oversee independent Quality & Information Security Assurance activities on appointed programmes.

The successful candidate will review project procedures, conduct reviews of Contract Data Requirements Lists (CDRLs), perform internal process audits for ISO and Leidos standards, and be responsible for auditing key suppliers too.

QA and control experience in a software development environment is required, as is experience of ISO 27001 standards and Integrated Management Systems, and good communication skills. This role is home-based but candidates must be willing to do occasional travel.

Find out more here. 

Software engineer, Ripple, London

Providing crypto solutions for financial institutions, businesses, governments and developers, Ripple aims to create greater economic opportunity for more people around the world. To aid their corporate mission, it is hiring a Software engineer to join a team building, trading and liquidity infrastructure.

The successful candidate will participate in the full software development lifestyle and deliver reliable (micro-) services to support systematic market making, trading, and execution for Ripple’s customers.

Deep research dives into practices from traditional financial systems that can benefit the crypto space and driving best practices in coding, testing and deployment are key to this role.

With a competitive salary and wellbeing benefits, this role looks very attractive.  

Software engineer, Experian, Leeds 

Experian’s Leeds-based dev team is growing and it’s looking for an experienced Software engineer to work on its data governance and management software, integrating it into a wider data-quality platform.

The company is seeking someone comfortable with both front-end and back-end development, and who is passionate about building modern solutions that deliver value to its customers.

The ideal candidate will have experience building websites, APIs, and developing user interfaces, TypeScript and JavaScript (ES6+) knowledge, and strong Agile experience with a test-driven approach.

See more about this role here. 

If these roles aren’t for you but your current role is causing you persistent stress, visit the UKTN Job Board to see what else is on offer