Four Tips for Managing Sickness Absence
It’s inevitable that from time to time, your members of staff will get sick. It’s to be expected – particularly at this time of the year – and it’s something that you can’t really avoid as you grow your business and your workforce.
As an employer though, you need to be sure that you’re managing your sickness policies and procedures in the right way. Without a robust approach, you could quickly find that sickness absence is seriously damaging productivity, and in turn, your profits.
So what’s the solution? This week I am offering my four top 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 on board, 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 focuses on 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, such as simple modifications to the working environment or equipment.
- 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 that 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, 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 to how you promote physical and emotional wellbeing in the workplace, and these are far more effective than efforts to problem solve once the damage has already been done.
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: 01536 215240. If you don’t have a policy on absences, we can put one together for you, and we can also help with training specifically on absence management and how to spot signs of stress.