Data taken from a subset of 500 UK employers using its absence management system shows that May is generally a low sickness absence month – with just 38.6 average sick days recorded. However, last year, on the Tuesday after the early Bank Holiday Monday this spiked to 61.1 absences and it went even higher on the Tuesday after the late May Bank holiday, when 66.9 was the average recorded.

According to e-days’ new Workplace Wellbeing guide undertaken in association with Perkbox, Europe’s fastest growing employee experience platform, people are least likely to call in sick in May because it’s a generous month for Bank Holidays, helping people unwind and relieve pressures of work.

Clare Avery, head of HR for e-days, explains:

“If the poor weather in winter months contributes to more sickness absence, the generally nicer weather with brighter sunshine in May helps people feel physically and mentally better, helping create the lowest month for sickness absence. Many people, too, tend to take their holidays in the summer months, so they have things to look forward to also which also relieves the pressures of work. But employers do need to be aware of the days post bank holiday Mondays”.

To improve workplace wellbeing and reduce absence, e-days suggests understanding the reasons behind absence:

  • Keep on top of absence stats: Clear reporting helps employers to understand their specific absence trends. Understanding data, employee demographics and behaviours means its possible to make strategic actions to support employee wellbeing and reduce absence costs.
  • If absence data is showing Bank Holiday blues are a problem in your business – and it’s not surprising as it impacts the most loyal employees’ determination and motivation – it’s worth considering an engaging welcome back incentive, something fun and lively. Why not set up a competition prize for the best or funniest Bank Holiday activity, free coffee or doughnuts, or a team prize for least amount of absences?
  • Return to work interviews: If an employee took time off for stress-related reasons, talk to them when they return to work. Ask them for their thoughts on the source of the stress, to understand if it’s possible to help.
  • Make flexible working possible: If employees can do their jobs remotely, let them. Remote working means less time and money spent on stressful commutes, and more time spent in an environment where employees can feel comfortable. Remote working also means that employees won’t miss any days when the weather’s too extreme for them to safely travel.
  • Don’t let work get in the way of life: Offer generous leave for new parents. Make it clear that you’ll be willing to accommodate employees if they need to take time off, for whatever reason – from new born babies to dental appointments.
  • Discourage overwork: Don’t pressure employees into working too hard. Make it clear that all work should stop at finish time. If a particularly tight deadline or demanding project demands extra time, offer TOIL, so that employees can make up the time elsewhere. Overtime should always be the exception – it’s not normal, and it shouldn’t be expected.
  • Remove common sources of workplace stress: Mental health specialists Verywell Mind put together a list of some of the biggest causes of stress in the workplace. For instance, many employees feel stressed because it’s unclear what exactly what’s expected of them. So make everyone’s job responsibilities, and business expectations, as clear as possible. If anyone’s job requirements are going to change, make sure the changes are signposted, in writing, as early as possible.

Download the e-days Workplace Wellbeing guide in association with Perkbox here.