The Real Cost of Worker Illness for Your Small Business

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The Real Cost of Worker Illness for Your Small Business

By Zuma Insurance Services | April 18, 2018

The Real Cost of Worker Illness for Your Small Business


All businesses are affected by the physical condition of their employees. For small businesses, the cost of employee illness is even more significant, as these businesses typically have fewer employees available to fill in or take on extra responsibilities when someone is sick. Below is some information to help you understand the true expense of employee illness, as well as the steps you can take to minimize its impact on your company.

Cost of Employee Absenteeism

Employees’ disabilities and illnesses cost the economy as much as $576 billion per year. According to The Fiscal Times, sick employees cost the economy $227 billion in lost productivity alone. This second calculation includes the money lost while the employee is home from work, as well as while the sick employee is back at work but not performing at his or her full capacity.

Unfortunately, the lack of sick benefits and the need to earn a living prompts many employees to come to work even when they are still contagious and should be at home resting. However, this only serves to spread the illness to other employees, which makes the impact on your business even more severe. A study conducted by Staples showed that as many as 80 percent of sick workers came back to work while they were still experiencing symptoms. A similar survey included in Archives of Internal Medicine showed that as many as half of all doctors even go to work while they are sick, putting patients and other healthcare workers at risk of catching illnesses.

Acute illnesses like the flu aren’t the only physical problems that cause employees to miss work. Many employees also miss work because of the symptoms or complications of chronic health problems, such as hypertension, diabetes, asthma, and depression. These missed days result in additional lost productivity for the business, as well as lost wages for the employees.

Another factor to consider is when an employee is injured on the job. Not only can you face huge financial losses if you do not have workers compensation, but employees can require a significant amount of time to recover depending on the injury. Having safety standards in place and educating your employees on proper hygiene can help minimize employee absences.

The Real Cost of Worker Illness for Your Small Business

Minimizing Employee Absences

As a small business, there are several steps you can take to minimize absences among your employees and improve your profitability. Some of these steps include:

1. Providing sick days.

Although it may initially increase employer expenses per employee, providing your workers with sick days may increase your company’s overall productivity in the long run. When employees have paid sick days, they are able to stay home and recover while they are sick, which prevents them from passing the illness on to others.

2. Educating employees about prevention and good hygiene.

Educate employees about the importance of staying home while they are sick, as well as practices they can use to prevent the spread of illness. Encourage employees to avoid contact with sick people, as well as to avoid coming into contact with others while they are sick.

3. Providing wellness programs and good healthcare insurance.

Employees with good overall health are less likely to contract acute illnesses. They are also less likely to develop chronic health conditions that may cause them to miss work. Consider offering your employees a better quality insurance policy, as well as a wellness program to help them stay as healthy as possible. Take the time to educate your employees on the worker compensation insurance that you offer and have them review safety procedures regularly to be sure they are properly followed to prevent injury.

The Real Cost of Worker Illness for Your Small Business

Key Takeaways

  • Employee illness costs the economy a significant amount of money each year. It also impacts your company’s productivity significantly.
  • Many employees come to work while they are still sick, which only serves to spread illnesses to more of your staff.
  • Your small business can take steps to minimize the impact of employee illness on your company’s productivity.

If you have questions about your business insurance, please contact the experts at  Zuma today to learn more.