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Safeguarding employee health

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By Mike Davis, Head of SME Direct, AXA PPP healthcare

The consequences of ill health can be significant for a business, with considerable direct and indirect costs arising from sickness absence – estimated by the HR and people development body, the CIPD,* to cost UK employers £522 per employee per year. 

While average days lost per employee per year due to absence is reportedly less for smaller firms than for their larger counterparts – four days for businesses with fewer than 50 employees, compared with 9.4 days for those with more than 5,000 – the adverse effect is arguably more acute for SMEs, who may not have the resources to readily absorb an absentee’s workload.  


But the effects of ill health on business are not limited to absence alone. Presenteeism – where employees attend work when physically or psychologically unwell and perform below par – is a burden on business too. 

Taking a proactive approach to safeguarding employees’ physical and psychological health and wellbeing can, however, make a significant difference to business productivity. A good place to start is building and sustaining a positive, supportive workplace culture where employees are encouraged to lead healthy, active lives and have a good work/life balance. 

Of course, despite best efforts to promote wellness, illness and injury will inevitably affect employees from time to time. By providing fast access to medical treatment and care, business healthcare insurance means employees quickly get back to health and work – and it’s not just for large companies. 


Our SME health cover takes a tailored approach to meet businesses’ health needs and budget. Our SME health cover can extend to 24/7 access to telephone counsellors to help with stress, debt, relationship, emotional and legal issues. Plus, by adding our 
private GP digital service, delivered by DoctorCareAnywhere, employees can book and have a video or phone consultation with an experienced doctor at any time that fits in with their busy everyday lives.

Prevention, early intervention and allowing employees sufficient time to recover from illness or injury are all key to positive attendance management. A healthy, confident 
team is an asset to any small business and, by actively engaging with your workforce to support their health and wellbeing, you can go a long way to creating a workplace culture that optimises performance and productivity.