SMEs report increase in staff taking sick days

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ALMOST a quarter of small to medium-sized businesses in the south east have suffered negative impacts caused by staff health and wellbeing issues, a survey has found.

Of that number, more than half have reported a rise in absenteeism, while 21 per cent have seen an increase in staff turnover and a further 15 per cent have experienced a drop in productivity. The findings come from the Close Brothers Business Barometer, a quarterly survey that canvasses the opinion of SME owners and senior management across the UK.

Michael Cox, regional sales director for Close Brothers Invoice Finance in the south east said: ‘Anything that has a negative impact on an employee’s wellbeing will likely be reflected in their performance and consequently, that of the overall business.

‘Figures from the government estimate that almost 130m working days are lost every year to sickness in the UK and that ill health among employees costs the national economy approximately £100bn.

‘Whether it is mental or physical, any form of stress or illness can be detrimental to productivity and efficiency in the workplace. It can reduce the power and morale of the workforce and become a significant drain on resources.’

The Business Barometer also revealed that maintaining the health and wellbeing of employees is a priority for the majority of firms in the region.

He continued: ‘We found that almost half of firms polled in the region have introduced perks and benefits for employees such as health insurance, gym membership and company cars, and a third say they do so to support the wellbeing of their staff.’