As months go, February gets a bad rap. Christmas has gone, the associated debts are sinking in, and now scientists have confirmed that it is the month when employees are most likely to “pull a sickie”.
It’s a tempting thought for many jaded employees. When the weather is gloomy and the workload is increasing, the temptation to stay under the duvet and feign illness must simply be too much to bear – officially, ‘National Sickie Day’ is on the first Monday in February.
However, it’s a harmful habit from a business perspective, and particularly for small businesses on a limited budget. In fact, a report from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) worked out that employee absences are costing businesses an average of £554 per employee per year.
Obviously, genuine illness absences need to be taken seriously – so it’s even more worrying that the report goes on to reveal that almost two thirds of employers approach well-being reactively instead of pro-actively.
Annamarie Persis Jones, HR Director, has a few tips for small businesses facing this problem.
- “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.”
- “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.
- Consider other ways of showing employees your support. “As a 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”.
Having a culture of support and a solid plan for when the ranks are depleted could mean that, come next February, your business is 100% prepared to deal with any issues that come your way.