It’s inevitable that from time to time, your members of staff will get sick. It’s to be expected, and it’s something that you can’t really avoid as you grow your business and your workforce.
It’s also important to recognise the importance of allowing employees time off who are ill, and to make them aware that you will support them if they are sick and not to create a culture of presenteeism. Presenteeism means that people are present at work, but only because they are fearful of taking time off, and because they aren’t well, they aren’t able to perform effectively. In being present, they then infect all of their colleagues with their germs, and they are then under performing and at work or have to take time off – so it’s a lose/ lose situation!
Make sure you create a culture that means people take time off when they are ill and need to, but manage those that are taking advantage of your support if its non genuine absence. Without a robust approach to absence, you could quickly find that sickness absence is seriously damaging productivity, and in turn, damaging your profits.
So what’s the solution? Check out these four tips for ensuring that you’re covered.
- Create a clear policy so staff know what it expected of them
Your sickness and absence policy should cover how and when staff should notify the business that they need to take time off, details around provisions for return to work interviews, and any links to other relevant policies such as disciplinary procedures.
A policy isn’t worth anything if it isn’t clearly communicated and implemented. Be sure that your line managers are onboard, and have any necessary training that they might need.
- Understand the role of your employee’s GP
The ‘sick note’ is now a thing of the past. Instead, GPs provide a ‘Statement of Fitness for Work’, otherwise known as a ‘fit note’. Instead of focusing on what the individual can’t do, it’s centered around the tasks that they are able to carry out, which can be really helpful to you as an employer.
Be as supportive as you can, and remember that there will often be low-cost solutions that can help your member of staff to get back to work.
- Consider how you’ll support staff when they return to work
If an employee has been off for a lengthy amount of time, or they’re still not quite feeling 100%, you need to give some careful thought to how you can ensure they have the right support when they return. Otherwise, it can be exceptionally daunting for them, and you could run into some serious problems.
In practical terms, there are quite a few possible solutions here. Treat each case individually, and always liaise with the employee to discuss their needs and preferences. You might offer a phased return to work or reduced working hours for a set period of time, or extra assistance with carrying out tasks.
- Be proactive rather than reactive
Dealing with sickness issues is much harder than preventing them in the first place. There are positive changes you can make in your business to promote physical and emotional wellbeing in the workplace, and these are far more effective than efforts to problem solve once there is an attendance issue.
Could you change working patterns so workers get enough sleep and aren’t left feeling tired and stressed out? Could you bring in a package of more flexible benefits that include things like health care or gym memberships? How about upskilling your management team so they can spot problems like stress and take action to rectify them? A creative and proactive approach could do wonders for your business.
If you’re experiencing problems with sickness absence, we can help. Pick up the phone today for a free consultation and let’s talk about how we can help you reduce your levels of absence and increase your productivity.