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A COMMON frustration for employers is managing staff who are regularly ill and consequently miss work.
Sick or absent staff can be costly for businesses in the sheepmeat or wool supply chain, as it can not only be financially expensive, but can significantly impede progress and disrupt the flow of work.
Consequently, it’s a good idea for employers to develop ways to manage the health and well-being of their employees.
By going beyond the usual worksite safety precautions, managers can take preventative action to promote better health outcomes, less absenteeism in the long-term and greater productivity overall.
Identify the cost of ill health
According to a 2013 report by Sydney workplace health and safety consultancy Direct Health Solutions, absenteeism costs Australian employers close to $28 billion annually in diminished productivity and sick leave.
On average, it also cost each business surveyed more than $2700/employee each year.
Many businesses are therefore paying a high price for absent workers, which is a serious concern for the progress of their operations.
Absenteeism, either for genuine reasons or not, is disruptive for businesses and needs to be handled well.
There is an even bigger problem in sectors that deal in manual labour (the cattle industry is heavily exposed in many roles), with labourers taking around 9.2 sick days annually as opposed to 7.8 days taken by employees in other industries.
Interestingly, employees who turn up to work while sick can be just as problematic as those who take leave, due to the negative impact of lower productivity.
Establish strategies to promote physical health
As a result, it is of vital importance for employers to develop ways to improve the general health of their staff.
The phenomenal cost of absenteeism is a labour cost that can be significantly reduced if businesses put the right measures in place.
Three simple steps to implement a health initiative in a workplace that can help to promote better well-being include:
- Establishing a commitment to health within the business by communicating with staff and leadership
- Constructing an approach by identifying the issues and formulating methods to combat them
- Constantly assessing the strategy and it’s effectiveness.
A 2014 study by the Workplace Health Association of Australia has established several areas of worker health that employees should target.
More than half of all Australian employees are overweight and physically inactive. Around 24 percent have high cholesterol, 12pc have high blood pressure and 11pc have dangerous smoking and alcohol consumption habits.
Manage mental wellbeing as well
However, physical health is only one part of the equation. In order to fully-address worker well-being, employers should also consider mental health.
According to the WHAA study, more than 65pc of employees reported moderate to high stress levels.
Likewise, the Direct Health Solutions survey reveals that 44pc of respondents claimed they had absences from work due to anxiety, stress or depression.
Consequently, employers need to check-in with their workers to assess their mental state, and develop strategies to help them cope with external factors like work-related or other stress.
Overall, knowing how to improve employee health can be very beneficial for any agribusiness, making them more productive and reducing costs later down the track.
Source: Meat Processors Pty Ltd
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