Staff sick days aren’t exactly desirable, but they are pretty inevitable – there are few of us who are blessed with superhuman immune systems – however, it is possible to cut down on the number of staff absences, save money and maintain your company’s productivity. Here are some of them:
Set a Clear Policy
No matter how small your business, even if you only have a handful of employees, it’s important that you set out a clear policy surrounding absences in the workplace. If your employees know the score, in terms of who to talk to if they’re sick, when they should let you know that they won’t be coming in and whether they require any paperwork or not, and what will happen if they are absent all too often, then you are being fair with them. This fairness and the knowledge that rules are being applied consistently will help to encourage employees to stay away from work only when they are really sick. If you trust them with the information, they’ll likely repay you with their respect.
Make Your Office as Healthy as Possible
It goes without saying that, an office that is setup to promote healthy living, at least during working hours, will experience fewer sick days than an office that doesn’t even consider it. That’s why you should invest in quality office furniture, which is ergonomically designed as well as attractive. It’s also why you should avoid vending machines filled with junk food, and offer more healthy options.
Don’t Use the Stick Method
Although you should have clear policies regarding sickness absenteeism, just so that employees can’t take advantage of you, it really doesn’t pay to use the stick approach. If you’re too punitive, then you might succeed in reducing staff sick days, for a while. But eventually, so many sick people will be coming in and infecting others, that more people will end up having to take time out in the long-term.
Not only that, but it can really hit morale when you’re too strict about sickness, After all, people do get sick, and you need to understand that as an employer.
Support the Sick
If a member of your staff is truly sick or injured, and they’re going to be out of work for more than a day or two, offer them your support, Give them a phone call to see how they’re doing, send them a get well card and generally keep an eye out for them. If you do that, they’ll realize how missed they are and how much you appreciate them, and that will go a long way to them wanting to get back to work as soon as they’re fit and not crying off sick when they actually aren’t.
Train Your Managers
When it comes to reducing absenteeism, your managers and supervisors are your most important allies. If you train them well, so that they know how to manage sick employees by offering them lots of support, empathy and, where possible, workplace adjustments, you’re likely to see fewer employees spending long periods of time out sick.
Think About Flexible Working
Increasingly more companies are offering flexible working to their employees. If you want to reduce staff sick days, it’s something you might want to think about too, not only because staff who are suffering from minor ailments might be able to work from home, whereas coming into the office might be a little too much to them, but also because it will stop illnesses from spreading around the team, taking more people out.
Make Your Workplace a Nice Place to Be
If your working environment is a pleasant one; one that doesn’t have a bullying culture or overzealous supervisors looking over people’s shoulders all the time, then your employees will be happier and less stressed, which should translate into fewer sick days for stress, depression and other related mental health issues.
Invest in Staff Training and Development
This might sound like it’s coming a little out of leftfield, but let me explain; when employees don’t feel invested in a company; when they feel like they could be fired and replaced at any time; when it feels like they’re on the verge of losing their job, they’re much less likely to care about coming into work each day. If you show them that they are valued, you do need them, and you do plan to keep them in your employment for the foreseeable future, by offering them new opportunities, they will be much more likely to take sick days only when they are really truly needed.
Deal with Conflicts Fast and Fairly
If there are fights between employees and you let the resentments seether on instead of jumping in and sorting out a fair solution for all involved, you can almost guarantee that at least some of those involved will take time out sick. No one likes working in a toxic environment, and it can make them actually start to feel sick in the psychological sense, and of course, some will just want to avoid the place when there’s so much bad blood. So, as an employer, it’s your job to deal with conflicts as soon as you’re able.
Reward Hard Work
If you let your employees know when they’re doing a good job and if you give them little bonuses and perks when they’ve done really well, they’ll feel more appreciated and more motivated to come into work more often. The stick approach might not work, but the carrot one certainly does.
Enforce the Rules
Finally, if you have a procedure in place for dealing with sick leave, you need to enforce it. If someone has too much time off without producing a medical certificate or if an employee decides to stay home without calling in three days in a row, do what you said you would and take action. If you let things slide in this department, then your employees will let things slide, and sickness absences will only go up.
Here’s to far fewer sick days and a much better business!