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The key priority for the COVID-19 protocols at Unica was and is still today focused on the health and welfare of the company’s employees. The preventive measures specified by the RIVM to minimise the risk of COVID-19 infection have been strictly complied with, and wherever necessary translated into regulations for daily use on site, as backed up by the protocol developed by the construction and technology sector Carry on working together (Samen veilig doorwerken). Partly as a consequence of this strict compliance, the health effects of COVID-19 have remained limited for Unica, and the downward trend in absenteeism levels achieved over the past three years was continued in 2021.

The absenteeism percentage for 2021 was 5.1%, as compared with 5.2% in 2020. Just like last year, the management of Unica continued to focus considerable attention on maintaining links with employees working remotely and/or who were no longer present at the office, on a daily basis. Whereas this was a new situation in 2020, remote working and management have more or less become standard elements of day-to-day practice, during the course of the pandemic. Although this has not removed the desire to physically meet more regularly after the COVID-19 pandemic, in the almost two years that people have been working remotely, many creative initiatives have emerged, to strengthen mutual ties. Online information sessions that became necessary when physical appointments were no longer possible will probably become permanent features even after the pandemic, due to the improved accessibility and the outreach of online participation.

The downward trend in absenteeism is the result of a programme aimed at improving absenteeism counselling. The programme combines two important elements. Firstly, Unica entered into a cooperative relationship with health and safety at work service provider ttif & arbo, in 2019. The aim of this collaboration was to shift the focus from absenteeism to prevention and employability. Since that time, the fundamentals have been recalibrated, and the absenteeism percentage - despite the COVID-19 period - has fallen to below 5%. This was above all achieved by focusing attention on counselling for managers, who were given new roles and responsibilities in respect of absenteeism counselling, themselves. By offering extensive explanations and training about the various aspects of absenteeism counselling, managers are now in a better position to hold constructive discussions with staff about the delicate subject of health. More and more companies from the Unica network are entering into similar collaborative ventures with ttif & arbo, as their contracts with other health and safety at work service providers expire.

A second component that has helped emphasise prevention and employability is the ‘Your DAY’ (Jouw DAG) programme that concentrates on vitality and balance. Initiatives launched within this programme have generated greater awareness of a healthy employer/employee relationship. Without imposing a single obligation on the workforce, from its DNA as a family-owned business, Unica considers it one of its tasks to create awareness among employees of ways to remain vital and healthy during and outside work. The emphasis on this theme is for example revealed in internal communication which includes the Your DAY initiatives.

In 2020 and 2021, all employees were offered an online preventive medical examination (PMO), the conclusions and recommendations from which were reported at the end of 2021. The analysis not only considered the PMO results, but also absenteeism figures and the results of the employee survey. The report issues specified results for each cluster, and combines the key findings for each cluster in three main recommendations. Supporting arguments were provided for each recommendation, with the related facts and figures, presented as concrete programmes and recommendations. Using this focused report, each cluster will be able to take specific follow-up steps in 2022, with a view to bringing about the sustainable employability targets Unica has set itself.