Bosses’ frustrations over employee absence revealed – report

Mental health stressBosses don’t want employees coming to work unwell but are frustrated by working time lost to doctors’ appointments, according to new research.

Thirty-two per cent of owners, directors, senior and middle managers say they’d prefer employees to take time off sick rather than come to work ill yet a 29 per cent say they are frustrated by the working time lost when employees take time off for medical appointments.

But 49 per cent of the bosses polled agree that having a quick diagnosis backed by information on how to get better would help improve their employees’ productivity.

A quarter of employees admit to waiting for a week to see if they recover before seeking medical advice, while 35 per cent would delay seeking treatment due to work hours and pressures.

The survey findings also highlight that bosses can pressurise employees when need to take time off for GP or hospital appointments, with 25 per cent saying they try to ask the employee what’s wrong in order to find out whether their condition is serious enough to warrant taking time off. The research, carried out for Axa PPP Healthcare, shows 12 per cent say they would ensure that employees who attend medical appointments during working hours make up for the missed time while 8 per cent ask employees to take half a day’s holiday to cover for the time they have taken for medical appointments.

Asked on their views on employees taking time off for sickness, only 28 per cent of bosses said they felt that sick employees should take however long is needed for their treatment and recuperation. But 17 per cent indicated that, although they were sympathetic to employees’ plight, they did not expect them to take more than three days off sick at a time.

A quarter of the managers surveyed agreed that quick referrals to consultants and treatment would be beneficial and 38 per cent accepted that providing all employees in their workforce with access to healthcare benefits would help reduce sickness absence and improve employee health.

Axa PPP Healthcare distribution Chris Horlick says: “Time away from work due to sickness absence and medical appointments can be frustrating – both for employees and for employers. Seven out of ten of the bosses we surveyed agreed that providing healthcare benefits across the workforce can help reduce sickness absence, improve health and aid employee retention yet, in our experience, employers tend to provide medical insurance to senior managers only.”