Are you sick of people saying they feel ill? Do you feel faint when you hear there’s (another) bug going round? Employee absence through sickness is an unavoidable aspect of any workplace, but it becomes a problem if it escalates beyond what is reasonable to expect.
While every employee has the right to be ill, measures can be taken to ensure absence does not become unmanageable. Here are some of the most effective methods:
- Promote attendance
Praise and reward staff that do not take time off, such as by awarding a small prize to the most present employee. Obviously you do not want people to feel they are doing something wrong if they are genuinely ill, but an incentive such as this could encourage a more positive mindset about attendance.
- Have a strict sickness policy
If you take a casual approach to people calling in sick, it will give the impression you are not that bothered and encourage all employees to take ‘sick’ days. A policy by which a named member of staff must be informed before 9.30am by telephone, for example, would make the fakers think twice.
- Follow up absences
Don’t just let the absentee slip back to work as if nothing has happened. Make it a policy for them to have a meeting with their manager to provide a clear explanation and any relevant proof of their illness, such as a doctor’s note. This is also an opportunity to identify any root causes in the workplace that you may be able to deal with.
- Give employees a reason to be present
It’s no coincidence that self employed people rarely have days off sick. They take complete responsibility for what they do, so they are motivated to do a good job. And you can’t do a good job if you’re lying on the sofa watching ‘This Morning’. Try to engender some of that self-employed ethos in your workplace. Give employees control over their own work so they really want to be there to do it. As well as decreasing absenteeism this will create a positive can-do atmosphere in the workplace.
- Be flexible about working hours
Of course, some employees may never miss a day of work and stay late at their desk after everyone else has left – but that does not mean they are particularly productive. The more industrious employees may see others shuffling papers at their desk, chatting with colleagues and taking all day to accomplish the simplest of tasks and feel justified in taking a couple of days off occasionally. If you can measure the work done by what is actually accomplished rather than the number of hours employees are present in the office, then employees could earn the extra time off.
- Offer duvet days
Being able to ring into work and take a day off at short notice, sometimes called a ‘duvet day’, has great appeal for many employees. These floating holidays are typically used when employees would otherwise call in sick – such as when they have a hangover or are feeling rundown and unmotivated. Allowing employees to be honest about these days off will create a culture of honesty in the workplace and increase staff morale.