Staff time lost at Calderdale Council due to stress and depression

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Calderdale council faces an ongoing need to reduce sickness among its employees and improve productivity and still faces significant challenges in some areas new figures have revealed.

On average employees are still missing almost nine days a year through illness according to figures presented to the council’s Strategy and Performance Scrutiny Board.

More than a quarter of time lost in the final quarter of the council year 2017-18 was to mental health issues including stress and depression.

But overall absence has improved from 9.22 days per full time employee in 2016-17 to 8.9 days per full time employee in 2017-18 – however this is still almost a day behind the target of eight.

The council aims to reduce absence to an average by one day per person a year through what the report calls “a robust but fair approach to tackling absence.”

When the flu bug bit, the yearly fugures were adversely affected.

“It is pleasing to report we have moved the council into the eight day figure but we still have some work to do to reduce further.

“Quarter three results showed the lowest quarter for a decade, it is unfortunate that due to the flu virus in quarter four we have had a difficult quarter,” it says.

To tackle sickness levels, options ranging from sickness challenge meetings to stress management training are utilised.

Stress-busting lunchtime half hour taster sessions offered to staff of techniques including mindfulness and meditation, tai chi, qi gong and yoga have proved extremely popular with them, says the report.

After mental health related illness (26 per cent), musculo-skeletal problems were responsible for 19 per cent of absences in the fourth quarter while infections, colds and flu were responsible for another 15 per cent.