Absenteeism: from prevention to return to work - AG Employee Benefits
Colleagues who take pride in having an effective wellbeing policy in place

Published on 16/01/2023


How to stem the tide of absenteeism


​Half a million Belgians were off on long-term sick leave in 2022. That's an increase of 46% in 5 years. And 36% of these absences are due to a mental health condition such as burnout syndrome or depression. You’ll no doubt be aware that the cost of absenteeism to your business can be huge. But we know how important it is to keep employee absence to a minimum – and we’ve developed at 360° approach to help you do just that.  

Six key takeaways​​​​​

1. In 2022, there were half a million long-term sick leave cases in Belgium, including 36% for a mental health condition such as burnout syndrome or depression. That's an increase of 46% in 5 years. 
2. Without concerted action, bringing this figure down is nothing but a distant hope.  

3. Nowadays, income protection coverage is no longer enough: we need to consider employee wellbeing more holistically.

4. At AG, we offer a 360° approach to wellbeing at work, which includes: 

My WellRi, a tool to help you look after your employees’ mental health 
With My MIND, AG helps your employees monitor their mental well-being
Income Care, a product that gives employees on long-term sick leave financial peace of mind so they can focus 100% on their recovery
Return To Work, a voluntary programme that helps staff members on mental health sick leave get back to work safely and successfully 
the Return To Work dashboard, which shows you where you stand as a company in terms of employee wellbeing and whether the measures you’ve put in place are effective at reducing long-term absenteeism
support and advice from AG Health Partner in implementing preventive measures for better employee wellbeing 

5. Adopting this kind of holistic approach will create a virtuous circle, putting your wellbeing policy on a path to continuous improvement. 

6. The idea behind these tools, products and programmes is to help staff members stem the tide of absenteeism together. 

So if you’re looking to reduce the cost of absenteeism to your business, contact AG to discuss how you can design and set up a wellbeing policy that really works.

In today’s crisis-stricken world, workers are facing soaring levels of stress and pressure from all sides. Unless we learn to build resilience and make m​ental health a top priority, the numbers of employees on long-term sick leave for psychological disorders could well remain high. And we know that having someone off work can adversely affect colleagues and the wider organisation in all manner of ways – and, ultimately, hit you in the pocket. What is the cost of absenteeism to your business? Download our white paper to find out​. ​ 

How can you reduce the cost of absenteeism to your business?  

As an employer, you have a role to play in keeping your workforce healthy. But mental health disorders are where your HR policy and processes can make a real difference. In fact, you even have a statutory duty to contribute to the wellbeing of your employees​

By demonstrating a caring attitude and adopting a comprehensive wellbeing policy, you’ll find you have fewer staff members on long-term sick leave. And, in turn, you’ll have a more productive workforce – because happiness builds resilience and boosts performance. 

Unsure where to start? Look no further than AG’s Income Care product, which takes an end-to-end, 360° approach to addressing absenteeism. 

How can AG’s 360° method help you?   

Our method is designed to create a virtuous circle, putting your wellbeing policy on a sustainable footing. Of course, our primary aim remains the same as ever: to provide employees on long-term sick leave with a stable income, giving them financial peace of mind so they can focus 100% on their recovery. 

But nowadays, income protection coverage is no longer enough: your staff members expect you to consider their wellbeing more holistically. That’s why we’ve expanded our Income Care product to include a range of extra features. 

​1. My WellRi: an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure

In early 2022, we added My WellRi as an additional service as part of our Income Care solution to help employers tackle absenteeism at source by preventing the underlying risks. 

My WellRi is a quantitative and scientific assessment of your employees’ general and workplace wellbeing. Developed by AG Health Partner, it will give you valuable feedback and help you identify activities that nourish or deplete your staff members’ energy levels. You’ll find out where you stand as a company and have the information you need to set the groundwork for your wellbeing policy. What’s more, by offering My WellRi, you’ll be complying with your statutory requirement to foster wellbeing and to identify risk factors for your employees. 

To find out more about My WellRi, read our article: How can you look after your employees’ mental health?​   
2. My MIND by AG: self-care for mental well-being

This innovative health service is now included in your Income Care guarantee. It allows your employees to take good care of their mental well-being themselves, from their smartphone. That way, you invest in their mental resilience, as well as productivity and strong employer branding. My MIND by AG offers your employees:

A risk analysis, and personalised recommendations to strengthen their mental resilience.
Evidence-based self-care tools to work on their mental well-being at their own pace.
The Safe2Talk helpline for 24/7 access to professional advice for more critical questions or problems.  

3. Return To Work:  getting people back to work safely and successfully  
Return To Work logo
Unfortunately, preventive measures don’t always work and some employees will still go on to develop long-term conditions. So as well as providing income protection coverage, we offer the Return To Work​ assistance programme for employees who are off work with a mental health disorder. 

With Return To Work, employees:

get quick access to proactive support
receive multidisciplinary, individually-tailored care
can choose whether or not to take part in the programme 

Five years on from its launch, we’re proud to report that our Return To Work programme has been a resounding success, having helped countless employees get back to work in good health. Want to know more about the Return To Work programme? Read our article: Do Return To Work assistance programmes give you a better ROI?

A programme that complements statutory measures  

Our assistance programme complements statutory back-to-work measures for employees on long-term sick leave. And our aims are fully aligned with the government’s goal of increasing the employment rate to 80%. ​

What about physical conditions, critical illnesses and other health issues?  

Alongside our proven return-to-work assistance programmes for people suffering from mental health disorders, we’re also exploring return-to-work options for employees suffering from other health issues. One way we’re doing this is through our partnership with Stichting tegen Kanker/Fondation contre le Cancer , which provides a path back into work for cancer survivors. ​Want to find out more? Jan Heyvaert, Chief HR & Sustainability Officer at AG, shares his views on this initiative in his interview "An employee with cancer? RECONNECT offers practical advice.

4. The Return To Work dashboard: measure the impact of your wellbeing initiatives  

Once you’ve implemented a comprehensive wellbeing policy, you’ll want to know whether your efforts are paying off. Are your return-to-work assistance programmes doing what they’re designed to do? Are they reducing absenteeism within your workforce? ​

Measure the impact of your programmes with the Return To Work dashboard.

With the Return To Work dashboard, you’ll get reports containing clear insights and performance metrics for your return-to-work assistance programmes. 

But that’s not all – the dashboard can also help you answer bigger questions about your overall wellbeing policy. Is the number of employees on assistance programmes falling? Are staff members who go on sick leave returning to work earlier than before? This way, you’ll see whether you’re on the right track, and whether the wellbeing measures you’ve put in place are working. And if you’re not getting the results you expected, you’ll know where and how you need to adjust your policy. 

What’s more, the Return To Work dashboard lets you benchmark your performance against your industry peers, or even against all organisations in the AG portfolio. 

Note that, for employee anonymity reasons, you’ll only be able to access the Return To Work dashboard if you have enough participants on assistance programmes.

5. AG Health Partner: your one-stop source for prevention advice

If you’re not hitting your goals despite your best efforts, you can always turn to AG Health Partner​, a pioneer of “Wellbeing as a Service”, for end-to-end advice and support on the preventive steps you can take to foster better wellbeing in your organisation.  

Wondering whether you can reduce the cost of absenteeism to your business? Yes, you can! Get in touch with your regular contact person at AG to discuss how to shape a wellbeing policy that works.