Last updated: 27.02.14

Use online tools to cut down on sick days

Sick days are at an all-time low in the UK thanks to the continued anxieties most workers are suffering over the long-term security of their jobs. According to the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics, 131 million days were lost due to sickness in 2013, which is significantly lower than 20 years ago, when it stood at 178 million.

The discrepancy between public and private sectors, which saw 2.9 per cent of hours and 1.8 per cent of hours lost to sickness respectively, suggests that job insecurity - traditionally much higher in the private sector - is a key reason for this decline.

But even though the reduction is good news for employers, it is important not to dismiss the amount of time still being lost as a result of sickness. The official figures suggest a figure of 4.4 days a year in lost productivity for the typical worker. 

While many of these lost days will be unavoidable, it will certainly be galling to many managers that the biggest share are are lost to back, neck and muscle pain - issues that can often be worked around or avoided altogether with the right insight and employee wellbeing procedures.

But once these issues have occurred, it is worth employers considering the vital role that technology can play in reducing this downtime, or at least putting it to good use. By doing so, employers can turn a problem into an opportunity for improvement.

Even for those in jobs that cannot be undertaken remotely or online, a few days at home recuperating from a sore back does not have to be a waste for them or their employers. Instead, consider using this time to train staff using online tools. There are hundreds of different courses and resources available from Virtual College that your business can use to promote e-learning among staff.

Whether it's training on ways to avoid future injuries (which will in turn limit potential sick days down the line), modules on aspects crucial to their everyday jobs or training on soft skills that may not seem immediately relevant, there are plenty of different ways that e-learning can support professional development and give a boost to your business as a result.