HeadlinesAbstracts: November 14th, 2007

 This report from the Chartered Management Institute calls into question the focus on reducing absenteeism in local government. The survey findings provide insights into cost reduction measures and point to the need to improve the health and welfare of employees rather then simply attempting to reduce absence levels. They key message is that significant productivity benefits that can be gained from higher levels of motivation.  The report reveals that 21 per cent of managers in the sector believe their health is deteriorating.  With 71 per cent suggesting that ill-health reduced ‘enjoyment of their job. 49 per cent claim illness rates in their organisation have gone up over the last 12 months.  But 1 in 3 managers claim a culture of not taking time off work for sickness exists in their organisation.  Only 54 per cent of employees feel they would be treated sympathetically if they were ill.  The report also shows that sickness at work does not always translate into sick leave from work.   For example, 38 per cent of those reporting symptoms relating to stomach bugs in the past year did not take sick leave and only 11 per cent suffering from stress took time off from work, despite 1 in 3 citing stress symptoms.  The impact of this attitude is seen through declining performance, waning enthusiasm and increasing levels of suspicion.  Based on the views of 1,511 managers across local government, key findings include:  only 31 per cent of respondents claimed to be operating ‘at or near peak productivity’ and 67 per cent claiming their productivity was reduced by ill-health. This shows the extent to which health and productivity are inextricably linked.  There is also a decline in commitment with  1 in 2 managers saying they were not ‘positively motivated’ about work and 54 per cent suggesting they worked beyond contract hours because of ‘work volume’ and ‘deadlines’.  Fewer are prepared to ‘make up lost time’ too, with only 27 per cent working 2 hours or more per day over contracted hours, down from 45 per cent in 2000.