Working is shown to be beneficial to health. Most people on sick leave want to work or return to work earlier if possible. Whats more, not being at work has shown to have detrimental affects on employees health. The Stamina Helse Occupational health survey from 2019, showed that even before the pandemic hit and disrupted normal work practices that workplaces in Scandinavia were not effectively managing employees sick leave and workplace welfare.
Workplace challenges are evolving and becoming more complex, making the role of leaders and how they follow-up their employees ever more essential to good workplace welfare. In 2019, pre-pandemic, mental health issues officially accounted for over 25% of all workplace absence. However, experts agree that this number is understated due the cascade effect that psychosocial factors can have on physiological symptoms, such as back and neck pain which are not reported as being caused by mental health. The rise of spychosocial factors as a driving cause of workplace absence creates new challenges for leaders. Workplaces are known to contribute to the sick leave problem, with leadership practice closely tied to employee workplace health.
The emerging workplace challenges we are seeing today highlight a generation shift that creates new demands on employers. Sick-leave is in itself becoming more complex and the challenge for leaders to keep a healthy, productive and happy workforce have never been greater. In particular, we see that leaders need to give greater focus on organising work in accordance with an employees Workability and enable them to be at work as much as their health allows. Employers in general know too little about health and doctors have too little information about a patients workplace. One major frustration we hear from leaders is that the doctor is the gatekeeper of sick leave, but they are not available or involved in finding the facilitation solution to keep the employee in work, or the follow-up to help the employee back to full work.