In sickness or in health? Employers can’t decide

Bosses don’t want employees coming to work unwell but are frustrated by working time lost to doctors’ appointments, according to new research by AXA PPP healthcare.*Nearly a third (32 per cent) of bosses (owners, directors, senior and middle managers) say they’d prefer employees to take time off sick rather than come to work ill yet a similar proportion (29 per cent) say they’re frustrated by the working time lost when employees take time off for medical appointments – somewhat surprising since nearly half (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.dnok5cfkscd3fmwjvpom

When it comes to how employees handle their (own) health issues, a quarter admit to waiting for a week to see if they recover before seeking medical advice, while over a third (35 per cent) would delay seeking treatment due to work hours and pressures.

The survey findings also highlight that bosses can be pretty demanding when employees need to take time off for GP or hospital appointments, with a quarter 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. Twelve per cent say they would ensure that employees who attend medical appointments during working hours make up for the missed time. And nearly one in ten (8 per cent) ask employees to take half a day’s holiday to cover for the time they’ve 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. On the other hand 17 per cent indicated that, although they were sympathetic to employees’ plight, they didn’t expect them to take more than three days off sick at a time.

It’s widely acknowledged that a healthy and productive workforce is good for business** and, to help achieve this, a quarter of the managers surveyed agreed that quick referrals to consultants and treatment would be beneficial. Moreover, nearly two fifths (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.

Chris Horlick, Distribution Director at AXA PPP healthcare, said:

“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. But help is at hand through AccessHEALTH – AXA PPP healthcare’s new healthcare plan for the wider workforce – and at a fraction of the cost of traditional medical insurance.”

AccessHEALTH*** is designed to address key employee health issues such as mental health, musculoskeletal conditions and poor lifestyle related risks by providing members with access to private GPs, physiotherapists, counsellors, nurses and pharmacists.