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Stress is the main reason for absence, shows research from GRiD

Press release 23 April 2018.

Stress, and stress-inducing situations, are the main causes of short-term absence (i.e. up to 26 weeks) according to research* from Group Risk Development (GRiD), the industry body for the group protection sector. Home and family issues account for one in five short-term absences; dealing with childcare issues accounts for nearly as many absences at 17 per cent; and dealing with eldercare issues accounts for one in ten absences.

Whereas acute medical conditions (such as heart attack/cancer) and musculoskeletal conditions both account for 15 per cent of short-term absence, stress and stress-inducing situations compound as the main reason why employees are unable to go to work.

The research asked 500 HRs the key reasons for short-term absence within their organisations.

Excluding minor ailments, the main reasons for short-term absence are:

Home/family issues 20%

Child care issues 17%

Acute medical conditions (e.g. heart attack/cancer) 15%

Musculoskeletal (including back pain) 15%

Subjective conditions (i.e. the illness can’t be identified by objective testing) 13%

Stress-related mental ill health 12%

Issues with providing elder care 10%

Recurring or chronic medical conditions (e.g. diabetes) 10%

Suspected non-genuine absences 10%

Reasons for higher-than-average absence

Companies that believe their absence is higher than the average for their industry also cite stress as a major reason.

27 per cent believe work-related stress contributes to a higher-than-average absence. Stress-inducing situations are also seen as a contributory factor. Dealing with staff shortages (29 per cent), poor work/life balance (20 per cent) and low morale (19 per cent) were all given as reasons for higher absence.

However, employers also recognise the extent to which health & wellbeing initiatives and group protection can support better attendance. 22 per cent said that not having health and wellbeing initiatives in place was the reason for having worse absence than others in their industry, and 14 per cent said not having income protection in place was a reason for worse absence.

Katharine Moxham, spokesperson for GRiD commented: “The figures show that stress is not something that individuals deal with in isolation, it is a key reason for absence and has a major impact on employers.

“We’re pleased to see that employers recognise that not having income protection in place also contributes to higher absence. Group income protection does so much more than simply provide financial support when people are unable to work. Providers recognise that stress is a big issue, and specifically offer a lot of support for stress within their products, such as fast-track access to counselling, access to mental health specialists, support tailored for carers, and much more.

“When stress is an issue for employees, it’s an issue for employers too. Poor absence means poor productivity. The support is there and we want people to know about it and use it.”

Reasons for lower-than-average absence

Indeed, companies that believe their absence is lower than others in their industry point to offering support for stress.

Those that believe their absence is lower than others said this is because they had good staff morale (57 per cent), good work/life balance (50 per cent) and offer flexible working initiatives (34 per cent). All things that contribute to reduced stress.

Katharine Moxham continued: “When employers recognise the huge impact that stress has on their employees and their business and they do something about it they see the results. In practice this means better morale, less absence and increased productivity. Those that utilise the services that come with group risk products are reaping the rewards and we would encourage others to follow suit.”

  • Ends –

*The research was undertaken by Opinium on behalf of Group Risk Development (GRiD), amongst 500 HR decision makers in 500 UK businesses, including 100 in companies with more than 250 employees, during November 2017.

The GRiD Research was sponsored by Aviva, Canada Life, The Chartered Insurance Institute, Ellipse, Generali Global, Gen Re, JLT, Kerr Henderson, Legal & General, Medical Expenses Consulting (UK) Ltd, Munich Re, Punter Southall Health & Protection, Quantum Advisory, SCOR, Self Assured Ltd, Swiss Re, Unum, Wingate Benefit Solutions, Xafinity Consulting and Zurich Corporate Risk

For further information please contact:

Sharon Mason 
SMUK Marketing and PR 
Mob: 07747 611773
Land: 01252 843350

Katharine Moxham
Spokesperson for GRiD
Mob: 07887 512508

Notes for editors

About GRiD

Group Risk Development (GRiD) is the industry body for the group risk protection sector, promoting the value to UK businesses of providing financial protection for their staff, enhancing their wellbeing and improving employee engagement. Our membership includes insurers, reinsurers and intermediaries who have a collective wealth of experience built over years of operating in the group risk protection market. Under the chairmanship of Steve Bridger (MD Group Protection, Corporate, Aviva UK Life) GRiD aims to promote group risk through a collective voice to Government, policymakers, stakeholders and employers.

GRiD works with government departments and regulators involved in legislation and regulation affecting group risk benefits, and with other organisations involved in the benefits and financial protection arenas. GRiD also seeks to enhance the industry's standing by encouraging best practice and by participating in industry-wide initiatives such as the professional qualification in group risk managed jointly with the Chartered Insurance Institute.

GRiD’s media activity aims to generate a wider awareness and understanding of group risk products and their benefits for employers and employees.

GRiD's dedicated spokesperson, Katharine Moxham, provides expert media comment on a full range of group risk issues.

Follow Katharine Moxham on Twitter @KMoxham


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