How to deal with sickness in the workplace
All business owners know that sickness and injuries to employees can cause real problems for productivity and meeting deadlines. Staff can suffer illness and injuries through random accidents, medical negligence, mental health problems or general health conditions that all lead to having time off work. According to Accident at Work specialist First4Lawyers, the latest figures show that 141.4 million working days were lost through absences in 2018 – equivalent to 4.4 days per worker.
The groups with the highest rates of sickness absence were women, older workers, those with long-term health conditions, people working part-time and those working in organisations of more than 500 people. But what can you do as a business to address employee absences?
Unplanned leave can affect your business greatly, so it is crucial that you assess the scale of the problem and try to identify if there are any issues that appear to affect it. For example, you should look to see if there are any patterns in timings when employees are absent. Look at when increases occur and assess whether there are types of workers of departments particularly affected.
Review your culture
Research shows that increased work demands directly influence absenteeism. If stress at work or home has led to more absences then implementing flexible working is a good idea. Encourage your management team to review working practices and offer more support where required.
Have a clear absenteeism policy
Make sure you are clear to employees what is acceptable and what is not. You should tell employees:
- How many absences are acceptable in a given period of time.
- What acceptable reasons for absence are.
- The support offered to help address increases in absence.
- The consequences for violating the policy
Speak to individuals
If individuals have an absence problem meet with them to discuss possible solutions, such as flexible working or support. Make sure you document every meeting in writing and if things don’t improve issue a verbal warning, which should also documented. The next step is a written warning which should be signed by the employee and placed in their personnel file.
Look to ease the pressure
If workloads are too high and staff are under undue pressure, then it may be a good idea to think if you can do things differently. Look at whether you can recruit more staff or outsource some work to relieve pressure.
In all of this it is fundamental that you maintain communication with your employees to ensure a healthy relationship. If you do all of these then you should be able to manage absences effectively.