Long-term absence 'causes low morale in the workplace'

Workers suffer as colleagues take long-term sick leave

Long-term absence damages the morale of those employees who are left in the workplace, according to new research published.

A study for Aviva UK Health suggests nearly a quarter of employees (23%) consider it "no fun" working for a company where colleagues go on long-term sick leave. One in five (22%) get annoyed and feel overworked if they have to make up for a colleague’s absence in the workplace.

The study of 1,000 British adult employees suggests that one in ten workers worry that the company will go out of business and they’ll lose their job if one of their colleagues goes off sick for a prolonged period of time.

There are also anxieties among those employees who are long-term absent. A fifth of employees feel guilty about letting colleagues down, while 71% reveal they would be concerned about returning to work from long-term sick leave.

While some worry that they would not be able to "fit in" with their colleagues, others question their abilities to still do their job. Nearly one in five (16%) say they would worry that they would not be able to cope with their old responsibilities. Moreover, one in ten (11%) worry that their old problem will come back and they will go off sick again.

Steve Bridger, head of group risk at Aviva UK Health said that while it is not unusual for an employee to be off sick for a prolonged period of time at some point during their working life, if this happens, both the emotional and financial strains on the absent employee and remaining team members can be "huge".

He said simply having the right protection in place can "greatly" reduce the stresses of being ill for both the employee and the employer.

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