Sickness at work
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Top tips for reducing sickness absence in the workplace

The 23rd annual CIPD ‘Health and wellbeing at work’ report shows the highest sickness absence rates in 2023 for over a decade. The average rate of employee absence now stands at 7.8 days per employee per year. 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, leading to a healthier, more productive workforce: 

Keep your sickness policy front and centre 

Your sickness policy is a vital tool in managing employee absences. It 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. Regularly remind your team to read through your company handbook as this 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 

Maintaining a comprehensive record of employee absences is not only crucial for compliance but also provides valuable insights. Analysing absence patterns enables a better understanding of when and why employees are more likely to be absent, allowing for targeted preventive measures.

Be mindful of stress levels

Stress and mental health issues are significant contributors to absenteeism. To address this, regularly check in with employees to ensure their workloads are manageable, provide support when needed, and ensure that managers are equipped with the skills to manage stress effectively. Identifying and addressing stressors before they escalate can contribute to a happier and more productive team.

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.  

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

The physical environment plays a crucial role in employee well-being. Time spent in the great outdoors can bring huge health benefits, and it’s quite easy to bring more of the outside, in. 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. 

Consider a pet-friendly workplace

Recognising the profound impact that pets can have on reducing stress and creating a positive atmosphere, some businesses are now embracing the idea of allowing employees to bring their furry friends to work. Research indicates that having pets in the workplace can contribute to lower stress levels, increased morale, and improved overall job satisfaction. Considering the feasibility of a pet-friendly policy, complete with designated areas and guidelines, can not only make the workplace more enjoyable but also provide a positive impact on employee mental well-being.

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.

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