Case study: Prevention pays off for Legal and General in sickness absence

Legal and General reduced its sickness absence levels by 15%, saving almost £70,000, after piloting a preventative
health programme for six months. Between November 2010 and April 2011, the insurer’s sickness absence rates were 15% lower across a pilot group of 1,000 staff, compared with the same period in 2009/10, and 13% lower than in 2008/09.

Working with Serco Occupational Health, GetFit Wellness and charity Stand To Reason, the firm launched a workplace wellbeing programme to the pilot group, which returned £2.47 in cost savings for every £1 spent on it.

Employees were asked to take part in an online confidential questionnaire relating to lifestyle, health risks, medical history and work. Participants were then sent a summary of their health, flagged as green, amber or red. Staff could set health targets or goals, depending on their results.

Legal and General gave managers training to support staff with low levels of emotional wellbeing, such as stress or depression. An early intervention programme, called Beating the Blues, enabled staff with mild or moderate depression to refer themselves for online cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT).

Nicky Richards, HR consultant at Legal and General, says: “I concluded there were some hotspots in the company. In some areas, there were above-average levels of psychological absence. Also, we had no proactive wellbeing intervention.”

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