Today is also known as ‘National Sickie Day’. Statistics suggest that the 4th February is the most common day for employees to call in sick unnecessarily.
Absenteeism can affect all businesses, and not only does it have a direct impact on your bottom line, it also reduces all round productivity and morale. Our Head of Coaching, Mark Pinches, explains how to create a working environment where employees thrive, and therefore be less likely to pull a ‘sickie’:
Offer flexible working
Offering flexible working schedules outside the traditional 9-5 hours can help increase employee engagement and morale, contributing towards lower turnover. Flexible working hours make employee’s lives easier and help to reduce stress, which may lead to burnout if not addressed.
If employees become burnt out from long commutes or by trying to juggle too much at once, they’ll be more likely to lose motivation and call in sick unnecessarily. Flexibility around working hours also improves retention, as you may find employees starting to look elsewhere if they’re unable to achieve a healthy work life balance.
Give employees a mental health day
Mental health days allow employees to take sick leave to manage their mental wellbeing. People who take a mental health day may appear physically well enough to work but in reality their mental health is suffering and they’re are at risk of becoming ill if they don’t take some time out.
It’s wrong to assume that mental health days are about avoiding responsibilities and taking liberties at work. It’s about being proactive and taking control when it comes to minimising the risk of physical illness and long term sickness absence that can be caused by rising stress levels and ongoing mental struggles.
Allowing mental health days gives employees the chance to recharge if they need to, but most importantly promotes an open and honest culture, helping people to feel valued and therefore improves retention.
Talk about mental health
The workplace needs to be understanding when it comes to mental health, and employees need to feel comfortable enough to speak out. Supporting national campaigns and awareness days helps to raise the profile of mental health – you could use posters and flyers or send out information via internal communications.
You should also introduce an open door policy at work to encourage communication between employees and managers, so that employees are less likely to be dishonest about calling in sick. As well as supporting staff with their work related goals, line managers are also best placed to spot the signs of mental health issues, so it’s important for them to be approachable and understanding.
One way that you can invest in the mental health of your employees is through training staff members in Mental Health First Aid (MHFA). MHFA is the mental health equivalent of physical first aid. The training covers how to spot the signs of a mental health issue and how to effectively support those suffering.
By showing that you take mental health seriously, and can offer the right support to those who may be struggling, you are creating an environment that staff want to be a part of and are less likely to pull a sickie.
Encourage employees to switch off
If your employees are feeling stressed and overworked they are more likely to call in sick. Increased pressure and longer working hours have made it more difficult to find a healthy work life balance, so managers need to encourage staff to leave their work at the office and switch off at home.
By not switching off, employees can end up experiencing leavism, contributing to further stress which ultimately may lead to burnout.
Looking after the health and wellbeing of your workforce is important when it comes to reducing absenteeism, but you shouldn’t just be focussing on one thing. There’s so many other benefits to supporting the health and wellbeing of your employees, but we recognise that it can be difficult to know where to start when implementing an effective strategy.
That’s why we’ve put together a free Health & Wellbeing Toolkit, which contains all the information you need to start creating your company's health and wellbeing strategy, featuring help and advice on everything from building the business case and exploring supplier options, to implementing and evaluating the process.