It is estimated that sickness costs the private sector around £4.17 billion pounds a year*, with 4.3 days being lost per worker a year**.
The cost of sickness pay is difficult for any size business to endure, but it becomes even more acute for small to medium sized businesses.
It is scary statistics such as these, which lead David James Simpson to set up Health and Wellbeing Solutions. David is a health professional who is registered with the Nursing and Midwifery and the Health Care Professions Council, and who has over 28 years’ experience in the NHS, setting up projects delivering smoking cessation services in prisons, to establishing heart disease risk reduction clinics in the community. He is passionate about working with Welsh businesses improve their workforce’s health and wellbeing.
David has seen the difference that early health intervention can make to people. A simple health check-up once every few months, and a chat about general wellbeing can make a massive difference to that persons’ health, and ultimately a business’ sickness bill.
On his motivation for visiting Welsh workplaces, David said:
“The number one cause of sickness in work is a cough or cold, second is musculoskeletal illnesses, such as back pain, but third – and the most worrying for me, is mental health – so stress, depression and anxiety. Around 15.8 million working days a year are lost to stress or depression each year in the UK, and some of these illnesses can be combatted if they are tackled early. Chatting to a healthcare professional can do this for sufferers and can help resolve issues early.”
David also gives tips to businesses on how they can make their workforces healthy, as obesity and smoking can be a major factor to the amount of work days lost. David explained: “Being classed as ‘simply overweight’ can sometimes lure us into a false sense of security about getting fit and active, losing weight and reducing our risk of disease. Smokers have on average 2.5% days off due to sickness, compared to 1.6% of non-smokers – those statistics speak for themselves.
“Sadly we don’t have these conversations often enough, so I want to make sure that companies everywhere know how to motivate their staff to stay healthy.”
When talking to employees about how to look after themselves, David advises that people stick together to support one another as much as possible:
“Very few people have these real conversations with their healthcare professionals, and so it’s more important than ever that people find a way to motivate each other in work. There are a myriad of ways that you can incorporate diet and exercise into the office, from holding walking meetings rather than sitting around a desk, to sharing healthy meal ideas for lunches.
“We’re beginning to see a lot more business engaging in health and wellbeing strategies such as blood and cholesterol checks to mini stress reduction days to keep their teams motivated, well and active. It is great to see more Welsh businesses invest in the health and wellbeing of their employees, I have worked in businesses like Acorn Recruitment and Marks and Spencer who can see the long-term benefits of this early intervention.”
He hopes that guidance and advice from healthcare professionals like himself, teamed with a continued focus on health and wellbeing, as well as weight related illness in the news, will help inspire businesses and staff to be more active, take on a healthier, balanced diet and strive to work smarter when it comes to combatting sickness days in the workplace.
*ONS, Sickness absence in the workplace, 2016 – https://www.ons.gov.uk/employmentandlabourmarket/peopleinwork/labourproductivity/articles/sicknessabsenceinthelabourmarket/2016
**CEBR, Long term sickness report, 2015 – https://cebr.com/reports/long-term-sickness-absence-costs-uk-businesses-4-17bn-a-year/