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Improving service delivery through better occupational health

Updated: Feb 28, 2023

Ellie Taylor

Ellie Taylor, January 28, 2020.

The workplace has a significant impact on people’s health and well-being. Poor management of workplace health can lead to work-related ill health and to high levels of sickness absence. This gives real cause for concern, not least because of the costs involved, the impact on service delivery and the consequences for individual staff. Sickness absence is a key business issue, and it is a key indicator of how well an organisation is managed. 

Organisations need healthy and well-motivated workers if they are to deliver high-quality services. Effectively managing occupational health is key to achieving this.

“None of us doubts the negative effects of smoking, excessive alcohol consumption or obesity on health, but few of us have any understanding of the value of work to an individual’s health. Work is important not only to physical and mental health, but also for social integration. People are diminished by the experience of long-term sickness absence; loss of contact with the world of work means they lose skills and confidence in returning to work.” - Professor Dame Carol Black, National Director for Health and Work

Committing resources to prevent people being made ill by work, or being absent from the workplace for health reasons, and placing an emphasis on rehabilitation and getting people back to work can benefit both employers and employees. A major survey of sickness absence trends* has demonstrated a clear link between addressing sickness absence and improved business performance.

“Those companies who still put this issue in the ‘too difficult’ tray would do well to sit up and take note of the very real benefits they would reap from tackling the problem.” - EEF Chief Medical Adviser and Health and Safety Commissioner, Professor Sayeed Khan.

To deliver these benefits we must:

  1. Create workplaces where health, safety and well-being are protected and promoted.

  2. Ensure staff have access to competent occupational health advice and support.

  3. Improve access to preventative care and treatment for common health problems.

  4. Enable people to remain in work while health problems are investigated and treated.

  5. Support and engage healthcare professionals on return-to-work issues.

This may seem like a difficult challenge, but the solutions are not ‘rocket science’; they are at the heart of what well-managed organisations do.

How to do it

Occupational health is about how work and the work environment can affect an employee’s health and equally how an employee’s health can affect their ability to do the job. 

A very straightforward approach can be taken to ensure effective management of occupational health and help deliver reductions in sickness absence. It needs: 

Sustained leadership from managers at the top level

Without it, an organisation will not be motivated to take action. Institutions where the director makes it clear that managing occupational health, safety and sickness absence is a key priority will be the institutions that really get things done. 

A good occupational health service

Investing in improved and more proactive occupational health arrangements can deliver efficiency savings in a relatively short timescale. A proactive occupational health service and a healthy and supportive working environment play an important part in preventing both work-related ill health and in proactively managing common health problems in order to help employees remain in work.

Training and support for line managers

Their relationships with their teams are what can make a real difference.

Regular, supportive contact with those who are absent due to sickness.

This can have a major impact on an individual’s motivation to get back to work.

Prevention is better than cure

Tackling sickness absence itself is only one side of the coin. It is far better if the problem is prevented from occurring in the first place.


Work-related ill health accounts for some 28 million working days lost a year in Great Britain. By far the biggest cause of this is stress and related mental health issues. Stress has to be tackled if significant improvements in attendance and productivity are to be made. 

Occupational health services

Good occupational health services are central to the effective management of workplace health. 

They can:

  1. Protect and promote the health and well-being of the working population, creating a healthier workplace and a healthier workforce which will also protect and enhance your image and reputation as a good employer.

  2. Provide early intervention to help prevent staff being absent for health-related reasons, and improved opportunities for people to recover from illness while at work.

  3. Provide critical support to the process of effective absence management and increase the number of staff returning to work earlier.

  4. Fulfil the statutory requirement to have access to ‘competent’ occupational health advice as part of the organisational arrangements to ensure that the health of staff and others is not adversely affected by their work.

Time to take action

Creating a healthy workplace and a healthy workforce is the best way to position your organisation to better deliver services.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Do you know what the sickness absence situation is in your organisation?

  2. Do you know what the cost of sickness absence is to your organisation?

  3. Do you positively promote good occupational health management?

  4. Could you do more to reduce sickness absence and improve your service delivery through better occupational health management?

Key Points

  1. Committing resources to effective Occupational Health can benefit both employers and employees.

  2. Addressing sickness absence has been linked to improved business performance

  3. Prevention is better than cure.

  4. Approaching and managing occupational health can be very straightforward when well-managed.

What can Insight do to help?

We offer a range of Sickness Absence Management services including Occupational Health nurses and management referrals.

With a range of training courses available, we can provide management with the tools they need to manage Occupational Health. With our Mobile Screening, we bring OH Services to you and help you protect and promote the well-being of your employees. 

Now is the best time to take action, and we’re just a click away. Why not contact us today to see how Insight can benefit your workplace? 

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