Sofie Bruce

Sofie Bruce is a licensed insurance broker in the province of Manitoba and owner of Bruce Benefits. Sofie has been working in insurance for almost 20 years and focuses on group health insurance for small business and individual insurance including life insurance, disability insurance, and critical illness insurance.
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Absenteeism is a complicated and expensive element of any business. According to a 2016 Conference Board of Canada Report, the average absence rate among Canadian organizations in 2015 was 8.9 days per full-time employee per year (private sector averaging 7.8 days; public sector averaging 12.7 days), costing over $16 billion per year.

But less than half of companies track absences by date and only about 15% track the reasons. A 2015 Morneau Shepell survey found that more than half of all employees calling in sick say they weren’t actually sick. Morneau Shepell proposes that underlying factors, like an unsupportive workplace culture or a perceived stigma around mental health issues, can often lead to absenteeism and presenteeism.

Presenteeism is when employees who are at work are physically or emotionally distracted, leading to reduced productivity. Things like illness, chronic pain, financial stress, depression, can all weigh on the person. The mantra of good work-life balance is “leave work at the office”, but sometimes, leaving your personal life at home is equally challenging.

Organizations can benefit by tracking absences (and reasons for absences) and implementing a formal absence management process. Then organizations need to focus on prevention to best address absenteeism and presenteeism.

Employee assistance programs (EAPs) provide a confidential way for employees to deal with personal issues. When an employer promotes an EAP, it can become the foundation of a wellness program enabling employees to tackle challenges they face in their personal lives.

Studies have indicated that when employers implement a wellness program, they can save 1.5 to 1.7 absentee days per year per employee – an average savings of $251 to $274 per year per employee.

Chambers Plan offers the Arive© Employee Assistance Program. It provides confidential access to counselling for work or family difficulties, dependency issues, legal and financial problems, and eldercare and childcare matters. Arive can help employees and family members cope with difficult situations before they escalate into broader problems. It’s good for them and it’s good for business.

Brought to you by your Chambers of Commerce Group Insurance Plan® advisor, representing Canada’s largest group plan for small business