People get sick. And it can happen at the most inopportune times, often delaying projects and timelines to the point where catching-up can be a project in and of itself. While the average person that has been at their job between five and 10 years takes about eight sick days each year, it’s not always clear that an employee is truly ill when taking time away from the office.
The reality is some employees may be “playing the system.” And if these sick days are paid, they’re costing you money. Fortunately, there are a handful of things your managerial staff can do to help limit call-outs.
Promote a Healthy Office Environment
Some employers have strict policies around sick time, simply because they think it makes it less likely that employees will take advantage of it. It’s worth considering, however, that two-thirds of the total costs of worker illness is due to people going to work when they’re sick, which is why it’s important to promote a healthy office environment whenever possible. When an employee is sick, you don’t want them showing up to the office. Allow people the space they need, and take other measures to promote a healthy office environment, such as installing hand-sanitizing stations and allowing time for mid-day exercise.
Clarify Your Policies
The company that offers unlimited sick days and other perks that seem too good to be true may be attracting the wrong talent. Over time, it can backfire on any organization, especially as employees begin to take advantage of the fact that actual policies are missing entirely. When it comes to paid sick leave, the details should be spelled out and clarified as much as possible.
Offer Remote Work Opportunities
If you’re inflexible about having people come into the office to get work done, you’re going to have to expect sick days to happen. One way to curtail lost productivity, however, is to allow your employees the opportunity to work from home when not feeling well. Many people call out of work simply because they don’t feel well enough to leave the house and deal with the hustle and bustle. But if you can take commuting out of the equation by allowing them to work remotely, they may still be able to complete a good day’s work—even if they’re at home sitting on the couch.
Step In When Necessary
Over time, it will likely become clear which of your employees are taking advantage of sick leave and which are not. While talking to an employee about abusing sick days can be an uncomfortable conversation to have, it can also be an important step to take and ultimately less stressful than having to terminate their employment. After all, you value their work—you just want them to actually do it. Make this clear, and chances are you’ll witness a change in attitude.
Call-outs and sick days are to be expected, but if they’re derailing your business, they need to be addressed. By taking steps to minimize call-outs, you can manage a more tightly knit workforce without having to worry about hours of lost productivity.