Managing Sickness Positively

It’s been a great start to the year with a very busy January for the team here at New Dawn, but our thoughts are already turning towards booking a little holiday. 

The first Monday in February is, according to national statistics, the day when people are most likely to pull a ‘sickie’ in the UK. Mondays tend to be a high sickness day anyway, but we thought it would be useful to look at how to manage sickness with some tips that can be applied, however large or small your organisation is.

Here are 6 top tips we think may help:

Managing sickness is often seen as a difficult and time-consuming process, so a good starting place is to have a clear absence management policy in place that is fair, transparent and communicated across the organisation. You can set ‘triggers’ for when absence levels put in motion a formal action, such as a warning. This sends the message that you’re monitoring and managing absence, which should deter ‘sickies’ and limit the time you need to spend dealing with them.

Your policy should include clear instructions for reporting absence and what is the expectation from employees. Requiring staff to telephone their line manager, before their shift starts, and requesting to speak to someone instead of sending a text message or leaving a voicemail is a proven deterrent against a ‘sickie’.

Having a robust back to work process. It may seem draconian to interview staff on their return from sickness, but it’s an essential tool that means everyone is treated fairly and should be conducted as a wellbeing check in. Sometimes the reasons for taking a sick day are hidden and it can enable you to support employees and prevent further absence, or a slide into long term absence. 

Keep accurate records of staff absence. This can help you to identify trends that may need addressing (see below) and importantly, will also mean that absences have to be addressed and you have the records in place that allow you to go through the correct procedures. 

Interrogate your organisation’s sickness data to pick up trends that may be affecting your employees. Is there a culture of presenteeism for example that means employees feel they have to come in, even when sick, and then spread their ailment? Be open to reasons for sickness and look at being proactive about addressing them within your business.

Doing something positive in the workplace on Monday or any day is always a great way to boost morale. A ‘treat Friday’ can be a good way to uplift your team, particularly during the winter months. One of our team always comes into the office for pizza even if it’s her day to work from home. Flip the week and celebrate a Monday, not a Friday.

We have heard some pretty weird and wonderful excuses for absence over the years including a ghost pushing someone down their stairs, and an employee falling into a well on their way home from the pub (the second one was true). However, in both cases they were handled with dignity and adhered to a fair process.    

Hopefully this Monday you will not be faced with a wave of absence and the national statistics are skewed. However, today may be a good day to think about your absence management, and if you need any help we can always offer our assistance. 

We’re ordering the pizza already!