World Health Day’s theme this year is all about building a fairer, healthier world for everyone. As the global pandemic has caused many communities to suffer, poverty and food insecurity has amplified gender, social, and health inequities.
With the world still so unequal, it is crucial that we do what we can to promote fairer and healthier habits in the communities in which we operate. Whether that is at home, work, or in our social spheres, more must be done to continue to progress and not threaten the advances made to date.
The impact on mental health over the course of the last 12 months has been huge. People have seen their way of life completely turn on its head, with limited access to friends and family, the move to remote working, not to mention the stress of potentially catching the virus, all contributing to feelings of anxiousness, sadness, and frustration, to name but a few.
It is crucial that we do what we can to take responsibility for our own wellbeing, whether that be making time to speak to family or friends, creating an exercise routine, or starting something new to keep our minds busy. We all have a responsibility to do this, but equally our leaders and the businesses we work for must also acknowledge their own role in maintaining and supporting a healthy, happy workforce.
The impact of the pandemic
The pandemic has forced us to work remotely, and while this has worked out quite well for a lot of businesses, with productivity levels maintained despite COVID, the impact on employee health has been hotly debated.
Flexible working and a better work-life balance are some of the positives to have emerged from this switch in our working environments. But canceled trips abroad and the inability to socialise as we would like have had repercussions on employees, with both burnout and presenteeism still big issues that companies need to combat.
Employees who do not take adequate time off during the year are at high risk of burnout, which reportedly costs businesses between £1.4 billion a year. It often leads to disengaged employees and therefore has a knock-on impact on productivity too. However, presenteeism is equally troubling with estimates stating it has cost businesses £15.1 billion a year. During a year that has been incredibly testing for many of us, absence needs to be prioritised, and businesses need to understand that a culture that promotes rest and time away from the desk is a more productive and happier one.
A fair and healthy workforce
Integrating absence management systems into your business can help manage and relieve HR teams of time-consuming, manual work. Rather than employees writing down their reason for absence on a piece of paper, and submitting this to their manager for approval, and then to HR to log, systems can be implemented that make the process a whole lot smoother.
Aside from usability, the benefit to businesses can be huge. HR no longer has to spend valuable time logging employee absence forms but instead can work on initiatives that look to promote the company culture, wellbeing initiatives, and other key responsibilities. On top of this, HR, alongside management, can use the data generated from an online system to support employees who look like they might be struggling with work, and or need to take more time for themselves. Promoting regular time off can help mitigate the chances that individuals or teams experience burnout, and by monitoring who is taking their annual leave, managers can quickly see who needs to start booking holidays.
To find out more about Edays, and how other companies have benefited from prioritising absence see our customer stories here.
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Katrina is edays' own People Director with significant UK and international experience in delivering people strategy and value-adding HR solutions across a range of organisations and sectors (including Arriva, Boots, Rolls Royce, the utility and charity sectors). Katrina has over 20 years of experience in Human Resources and is CIPD qualified.