On January 8 2009, the Mercer’s 2008 Pan-European Health & Benefit Report was released. It had some useful information about the causes of workplace absenteeism in Europe. The information was compiled in 2008 so is as current as can be but also occurred in a period of severe economic unrest.
As with all studies, the applicability to other nations and regions is up for debate but the data is a great starting point for discussion on managing these issues in workplaces.
According to the available report information
“Musculoskeletal conditions were identified by 78 percent of respondents as the cause of most long-term absences. Thirty-one percent specifically referenced lower back pain and 47 percent other musculoskeletal conditions. Stress and mental health issues (52 percent) and cancer conditions (20 percent) were also featured amongst the highest disability causes.”
By looking at policies and practices in the multi-jurisdictional structure of Europe, the demographic variations and management initiatives may be applicable elsewhere.
As Steve Clements of Mercer says
“Absence management remains haphazard at best. Targeted absence management policies and procedures are by no means universally applied, and even the ability to quickly and accurately measure absence remains fairly poor. Many employers offer a broad range of health-related benefits, but their presence is driven by recruitment and retention, and it appears there is only sporadic evidence of integration of these benefits within a broader employee health and wellness or absence management agenda. At a time when cost is under the microscope, employee absence remains under-managed and presents a great opportunity for savings and improved productivity.”