With Covid still making headlines as well as other illnesses circulating, it may not surprise you to read that sickness absence rates are at their highest levels in a decade. This equates to the average employee being off sick for more than seven days a year, costing a business £731 per annum. Here we look at 6 tips to reduce sick leave in your organisation.
We’re all human and sickness will get us at some point, but anticipating, circumventing and preventing issues that can cause sickness or accidents in the workplace in the first place, will help your team flourish and keep the dreaded lurgy away. Here are a few things to consider which may help keep sickness at bay in your business:
Keep your sickness policy front and centre
Your sickness policy can be forgotten over time leading to employees not knowing what’s expected of them when they do fall ill, causing more work for line managers and HR. Asking employees to read through your company handbook on a semi-regular basis will be beneficial for keeping everyone in the loop.
When your sickness policy is regularly signposted, employees gain a better understanding of what constitutes a genuine absence. Plus, everyone is more aware of the processes that come into action when absence occurs, from contacting line managers, to having a return-to-work interview, to getting a doctor’s note.
Recording and analysing patterns of absence
Absences need to be recorded and filed to ensure compliance. Recording absences also means you can analyse absence patterns to have a better understanding of when and why employees are more likely to be absent.
Be conscious of stress levels
Stress and mental health issues are the leading causes of long-term absence and increasingly significant causes for short-term absence in the UK. The 2019 CIPD health and wellbeing at work report gave the top causes for stress in the workplace as; workloads, management style, and workplace relationships.
To prevent this:
- Check in with employees to ensure they have manageable workloads and provide support if anyone is struggling.
- Ensure managers have the skills and training they need to manage stress.
- Find out if teams and colleagues are working well together. Are there any points of contention or bad feeling?
Identifying and addressing causes of stress before they escalate into full scale problems will help to keep your team happy and productive, with less need to take time off.
Presenteeism is when an employee comes into work despite being sick. This is a problem on several levels. First, the ill staff member is only delaying their recovery. Second, the quality of work they provide won’t be to their normal standard and third, they risk spreading their illness to other members of the team, potentially leading to further absences.
To mitigate presenteeism, encourage employees to take rest if they are genuinely sick. Perhaps opening a safe space to communicate any illnesses is a good place to start, so that employees don’t feel unable to take time off when they’re unwell.
Encourage a sensible work-life balance
Having a good work-life balance is critical for health and wellbeing. Making sure that employees take proper lunch breaks and don’t work overtime unnecessarily is great for ensuring people feel respected and not overworked.
Achieving work-life balance goes hand-in-hand with flexible working. This is because no two people are the same; for instance, some people relish getting to work early and leaving before the rush-hour. Others, find their productivity levels are best later in the day. Flexible working, whenever possible, gives employees more autonomy over their hours and workloads.
Healthy workspace leads to a healthy team
Time spent in the great outdoors can bring huge health benefits, and it’s quite easy to bring more of the outside, inside. So, open those windows, go for as much natural light as you can, choose earthy colours for your office furniture, and go all out with the plants. Your employees will feel more at ease and better able to focus on the task in hand. Ask for feedback from staff to check in on any concerns or ideas for how the workspace could be improved.
Absences will occur, and sometimes, they can’t be helped but as an employer if you can take active measures to try and prevent specific incidences occurring in the first place, you should be able to maintain a happy, healthy, and productive working environment.
For more information, on how to manage workplace absences, contact us at hr inspire – a leading HR consultancy in Hertfordshire – bringing your business the benefits, protection and experience of an entire HR department.