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HR HealthCheck 2020 sources

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Sickness absence

In 2018, an estimated 141.4 million working days were lost due to sickness or injury – an average of 4.4 days per employee (source)

Up from 4.1 days in 2017 (source)

Minor illnesses were the most common reason for absence (38.5 million days lost) (source)

… followed by musculoskeletal issues (27.8 million days lost)

Sending workers home is the most common action by managers when attempting to discourage presenteeism (source)

… while less than a third investigate the cause of presenteeism

Work-related health issues

44% of employees say they have experienced a work-related health condition in the last year (source)

Top 3 issues:

29% suffer from musculoskeletal issues

28% sleep problems

25% anxiety

Mental health

22% of workers say they often or always feel exhausted in their jobs (source)

… the same percentage say they often or always feel under excessive pressure

Work-related stress from heavy workloads, tight deadlines, poor working environments and ill-equipped managers has made 35% of employees consider quitting their job (source)

32% of companies who say stress-related absence has increased in the last year aren’t taking any steps to address it (source)

Just 9% have a standalone employee mental health policy (source)

More than half (57%) of line managers say their company offers no mental health and wellbeing training or support for managers (source)

… 79% of those who are offered it say it is optional

Work-life balance

Half (51%) of employees say mobile and remote working technologies have led to them doing work outside of their contracted hours (source)

… this rises to 65% in higher earners

More than two-thirds say doing so increases their stress levels (source)

60% of workers say they work longer hours than they want (source)

A quarter (24%) say they overwork by 10+ hours each week (source)


23% of workers suffer from a musculoskeletal condition (source)

68% say their job was a contributing factor (source)

… while 22% say it was the main reason

33% have taken at least one day off work in the last year due to their MSK condition (source)

36% say they will not turn to the NHS for any future treatment of their MSK condition (source)

Just one-fifth of employees have been offered a desk assessment, ergonomic chairs or laptop stand to prevent work-related back pain (source)

51% of sufferers believe their condition has an impact on their ability to do their job (source)


In September 2019, 4.42 million patients were on the waiting list for treatment (source)

NHS England has a target of treating cancer patients within 62 days of urgent GP referral (source)

… this has not been met for more than 5 years

Ageing workforce

There are 185% more people aged 65 and over in the workplace today compared to 1992 (source)

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