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Guide to handling sick days

Sarah Musgrove
sick days

Unfortunately sick days are an unavoidable part of running a business. Having absent employees can feel like productivity and performance stall. Whilst sick leave can cause some days of reduced outputs and overall efficiency, it is actually better for businesses in the long run to encourage staff to take the time off for their health. Contributor Sarah Musgrove, Editor in Chief – Brighter Business.

It is a worrying trend that the average number of sick days taken by British workers fell to an all-time low last year. In fact, according to research by Bupa, two-thirds of employees have gone to work while unwell and a quarter admitted it’s because they worry their absence will be a burden to the team. This creates an environment of fear about taking sick days that is not only unsustainable and unproductive for employees, but causes unnecessary anxiety. A healthy workforce is more productive and motivated.

Here are some tips to help manage sick days:

Employers have a duty of care towards their employees. If an employee is sick, however critical, businesses should encourage them to stay off work and recuperate. This may incur short term pain, but it will enable longer term gain in terms of productivity.

Consider other ways of showing employees your support. As an SME, there are several very cost-effective methods to support and engage employees. For example, offering an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) to your employees or running fun incentives. EAPs help employees deal with personal problems that might adversely impact their work performance, health and wellbeing.

Employees who know they have understanding employers will be more engaged. This is about ensuring you don’t create a culture of fear – employees should be able to speak up when they’re too sick to work, and not feel guilty about it.

Managers and business owners should have some effective processes in place. Obviously, when employees are away from the workplace, particularly for the long-term, it can increase workloads for other team members. Being prepared to deal with a heavy workflow in advance means that remaining employees will be motivated to tackle issues with lack of resources.


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