MSD Absence and Presenteeism:  A Pain in the Neck for UK Businesses
Musculoskeletal disorders (MSD’s) are costing UK businesses £7.4 billion a year through absenteeism and an estimated £15 billion a year in presenteeism – people at work, but working less productively due to a MSD.
An estimated 11.6 million working days a year are lost to work-related MSD with the average days lost per MSD case weighing in between 15-17 working days. This is painful for people, a nightmare for managers and of course, bad news for business, costing companies an average of £1400 - £1600 for each MSD case.
Back pain (up to 40% of all MSD absence cases) and upper limb pain (up to 40%) are the most common workplace MSD’s, and are prevalent in all types of businesses across a wide variety of industries – not just heavy, repetitive, manual jobs. Sitting slumped at a desk, glued to the computer all day without moving, can cause just as many problems.     
And it’s not just absenteeism that is costly to businesses, presenteeism is also on the up. Over the last 12 months, employers have seen a 34% rise in employees working while sick with subsequent negative effects on performance and productivity.
Connect, specialist providers in occupational physiotherapy services to businesses, has launched a new campaign called ‘The Keep Moving Challenge’ to raise awareness of the issues related to MSD’s and the importance of regular movement.
The campaign urges UK employers to get their workforce moving by walking 10,000 steps a day to improve health and wellbeing and subsequently step toward increasing productivity and business performance.
Kathryn Gough, Chartered Physiotherapist and Business Development Manager at Connect said: “We’re on a mission to help reduce sickness absence, improve employees’ performance, health and wellbeing. Keeping people moving is central to this and crucial in the fight against workplace MSD. As part of the challenge, we’ve sent pedometers to businesses across the UK to encourage them to aim for 10,000 steps each day.
“There are numerous benefits that regular physical activity such as walking, can have. It reduces the chances of developing a number of health conditions from muscle and joint pain to common mental health problems – we know exercise is great for reducing stress, improving sleep and can even help with memory. A simple activity such as walking is free and something you can easily fit in and around your working day.”
Sue Hayward- Giles, Assistant Director of Practice and Development at the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy comments: “We understand these are tough times for employers, but it’s in everyone’s interest for staff to be healthy and productive.
“Research shows that looking after your workforce actually saves money so it is important that employers recognise these benefits. With many people now working until later in life, we would encourage employees to develop and maintain the healthy habits now in order to give themselves the best possible chance of staying well enough to work as they get older.”
MSD’s are common, costly and painful for both people and businesses. Actively managing a MSD through specialist occupational physiotherapy and embracing the ‘keep moving’ mindset can have a transformational effect for both employers and employees.
‘Keep moving’ is beneficial for business – it improves fitness, improves performance and quite simply makes people feel better. For businesses, this can result in another step towards a happier, healthier and more productive workforce.
Connect’s 10 reasons to keep moving are:
1.    Corrects posture
Helps maintain a healthy sitting and standing posture as you strengthen your core muscles.
2.    Lowers stress
Movement produces endorphins, which are natural stress-fighters.
3.    Releases energy
Helping you to feel more energetic and productive throughout the day.
4.    Makes us happier
A constant release of endorphins will improve your mood so make keep moving a habit.
5.    Reduces sickness
Strengthens natural defences and the immune system to help fight infection.
6.    Helps prevent or manage over 20 medical conditions
Including coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes, cancer, obesity, back pain, osteoarthritis and depression.
7.    Boosts confidence
Improves confidence and helps you feel more accomplished.
8.    Improves memory
Increased energy and oxygen levels to the brain, boosts memory and makes learning easier.
9.    Improves sleep
Helps give a good night’s rest to wake up fully recharged in the morning.
10.  Can help us live longer
Healthy living, and of course regular movement, increases life expectancy significantly.
For more information on each of these reasons please visit our website at