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Apr 292010
working; sick

Image by coaxeus via Flickr

UK study finds that going to work when sick could cost your employer more than if you stayed at home!

Absenteeism is a common and much reported problem for employers around the world, costs companies millions of Euro every year and has a negative impact on everyone in an organisation. If your colleagues don’t turn up for work, that puts pressure on you, because somebody has to pick up the slack.

What we rarely hear anything about though is the flip side of the same coin: the potential impact of people who attend work when they’re genuinely too sick to do the job.

Perhaps partly because of the rising profile of absenteeism in the workplace, increasing numbers of employees struggle in to work when they would be both physically and psychologically better off taking the day off to recover. According to a pioneering report from UK based employment think tank The Work Foundation, the cost of this sickness presence — or "presenteeism" as they call it — could match or potentially exceed the UK£13bn bill for sickness absence that UK businesses have to foot.

While sickness absence is widely measured and monitored across the public and private sectors, and many businesses are focussed on reducing absenteeism, this report suggests there’s a lack of understanding surrounding "presenteeism", and organisations are generally oblivious to its hidden costs. The authors point out that businesses who don’t address presenteeism in the workplace could be missing out on opportunities to boost productivity and improve employee health and wellbeing.

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Aug 052009
Swine Flu

Image by The Artifex via Flickr

Ireland seems to have avoided the brunt of the Influenza A(H1N1) swine flu pandemic to date. As of the 28th of July there were a total of 276 laboratory confirmed cases of the disease in the state, 38 of which were classed "in country" transmissions (passed from person to person within the country, as opposed to being picked up outside Ireland and brought in). That’s a fairly small number, but one of the characteristics of a pandemic is the tendency for small numbers to turn into big numbers very quickly.

Last week an estimated 1,500 suspected cases of swine flu were reported to Irish GPs, and a glance across the water to our nearest neighbour, Britain, which is top of the European league table for Swine Flu infections by quite some margin, reveals a worrying trend. There were an estimated 100,000 new cases of swine flu in the UK during the week ending the 19th of July. That’s almost double the figure for the week before, with the numbers typically doubling week-on-week. Meanwhile infections here continue to rise sharply, and public health officials warn that it’s only a matter of time before Ireland’s first swine flu related death occurs.

In Britain, the pandemic is already having an impact on the workplace. Figures released last week by absence management firm FirstCare revealed that 130,000 people stayed off work with cold and flu symptoms on the 14th of July, up from 45,000 a week earlier. Here the HSE is advising Irish businesses to gear up for increased absenteeism in the workplace as the pandemic takes hold.

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Jul 102009
My Work Space

Image by ForestForTrees via Flickr

Employee Assistance Programmes, or EAP‘s, are becoming increasingly popular in the Irish workplace, and are helping organisations to comply with new health and safety legislation, improve productivity and retain their key staff. But what exactly are they, where did they originate and how do they benefit the average employee?

In a nutshell a modern EAP is an independent, confidential counselling and referral programme offered to employees by their employer. In very basic terms the service provides an independent channel of support to helps employees identify and address professional and personal issues before they start to impact on their performance at work.

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