11 Jun

Views sought from HR professionals on long-term sick leave

Conversation at work

HR professionals across the Midlands are being encouraged to share their thoughts on how COVID-19 has affected long-term sick leave in their workplaces to help inform policy changes in the future.

The Mental Health and Productivity Pilot (MHPP) is seeking to interview around 40 HR professionals working for businesses of all sizes and sectors about how the pandemic has changed their approach to managing long-term sick leave.

The interviews will form part of MHPP’s PROWORK pilot trial – which aims to assess whether targeted intervention will help those on long-term sick leave return to work more quickly and in a healthier state.

Data from the interviews will then be used to help inform MHPP’s recommendations to policymakers on how HR practices can be improved to help those on long-term sick leave.

The interviews are being led by academics from Loughborough University together with Universities of Nottingham and Birmingham – which are all partners of MHPP.

They will involve a video chat or phone call lasting around 30 to 45 minutes, and will be arranged at a convenient time for the interviewee.

Interviews will be held over the summer and into the early autumn, so HR professionals can register their interest now and have the interview later on if suitable.

Individuals who participate will receive access to free evidence-based return to work toolkits and research opportunities to improve employee wellbeing.

Dr Kate Godfree, Research Associate at the University of Loughborough, said: “We’d like to speak to a range of HR and people professionals about their experiences of managing employee long-term sick leave, and especially how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected this.

“Whether it’s an HR professional in a large organisation with support such as an Employee Assistance Programme or Occupational Health, or a consultant who works on behalf of several smaller businesses, we want to hear from everyone.

“COVID-19 has had a huge impact in the workplace – many people who have been off work for whatever reason during the pandemic may have found their mental health has worsened, which has meant they have been unable to return to work.

“Our PROWORK study and these interviews aim to explore how we can better support those across the Midlands Engine area. Early interviews suggest the picture is mixed in terms of how much support certain businesses and organisations provide.

“The more HR professionals we speak to, the more informed our research and our subsequent recommendations will be.

“We’d love to hear from a wide range of HR professionals so we can help improve sick leave policy and support across every workplace in the Midlands.”

Any HR professional wishing to be interviewed should contact either Dr Kate Godfree or Professor Fehmidah Munir on Prowork@lboro.ac.uk