On 25 October 2010 the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) published its annual survey on absence in the workplace, providing a snapshot of the “health” of the general workforce as well as highlighting some important variations across different sectors. The survey report will be of interest to employers as it offers guidance on effective absence management and can be used as a benchmark against which to assess any problems in their specific organisations.

The 2010 report shows that absences in general have remained at a low level (the average is 7.7 days per employee) but the disparity between the public sector (9.6 days) and the private sector (6.6 days) remains. More than 4 in 10 organisations reported that employee absence had fallen, with over a third indicating that it had remained the same as last year. The median cost of absences (£600) to employers has continued to fall due to a decrease in the cost to private sector employers to between £400 and £600, although the cost to public sector employers has increased to £889.

There has been a marked increase in absences which are stress related with over a third of employers across all sectors reporting the increase. Over a third, 38%, of employers have seen an increase in the number of mental health problems being reported in the workplace. This is much higher than last year when one fifth of employers reported an increase.

It is therefore more important than ever for employers to address any stress related issues at any early stage and to ensure that managers are trained to recognise the early signs of stress in the employees for whom they are responsible. Read the whole report here.