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Friday, November 27, 2015 - 08:53
Sick rate issue

Programmes to assist employers in curbing sick absenteeism have proved successful, with some Alexander Forbes Health clients reporting savings of up to 33% man-days per year.  This equates to a saving of one day for every three days taken.
Absenteeism and Incapacity management programmes can significantly improve attendance and productivity at a time when there is concern about the growing rate of absenteeism in South Africa. Last year, Statistics South Africa said absenteeism cost the economy between R12-billion and R16-billion a year. A workplace absenteeism and incapacity programme by Alexander Forbes Health has seen one South African company with close to 50 000 employees reduce their number of long term sick days by 12%.
Attendance within companies poses a major challenge because it reduces the productivity of employees.   Alexander Forbes Health has facilitated the implementation of reliable, consistent and effective monitoring and management programmes of sick absenteeism.
“Embarking on such projects is a major challenge, because we are often called only at a point when certain types of behaviour have become imbedded in the cultural fabric of a company,” said Alexander Forbes Health National Operations Manager, Portia Mahlalela. “It is important to standardize practices across the company; this will ensure optimal management of health risks leading to sick absence and ultimately reduce sick absence rates.”
Alexander Forbes Health disability consultants (qualified occupational therapists) work with business entities to identify their health risk or wellness issues, which vary from musculoskeletal diseases, mental health risks, diversity management, financial health and substance abuse. “Any of these may be the cause of absence within a company,” Mahlalela said.
The programme’s framework has to look at the company and individual holistically, and data plays a major role in identifying trends and drilling down to where the risk lies.  “Policies and guidelines need to be put into place; governance structures need to be set up in order for this programme to be successful.” Managing incapacity due to ill health is a critical aspect of the programme; it further allows companies to comply with the Labour Relations Act that refers to reasonable accommodation of employees with an illness in the workplace.
“Absenteeism management programmes do not work in isolation. Through our experience we have seen that commitment from both the employer and service provider brings the best results. Stakeholder identification and involvement is critical and results will not occur overnight.”
Mahlalela said Alexander Forbes Health realised that programmes were “dynamic and not stagnant and should be aligned with the business overall wellness strategy to yield better results”. “Because of this, Change Management and use of business intelligence is key to improving your workforce’s absenteeism behaviour.”

Copyright © Insurance Times and Investments® Vol:28.11 1st November, 2015
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