Outbreaks of flu strike every year, typically in November and December at the height of a busy Christmas workload, putting a significant strain on business operations, finances and morale as many workers go off sick. Presenteeism continues to be an issue for many UK organisations in the winter time too; employees don’t want their colleagues to have to pick up their work and resent them, nor do they want to return from a period of sickness to more work than is manageable. This results in a total of 9 out of 10 employees working whilst sick, reports the Personal Today website. Unfortunately, this often causes a spread of infection and heightens the number of ill, underperforming or absent staff. So, if you have no policies in place to prevent staff sickness and deal with the resulting absences, you could be creating long-term problems for your business.
Follow our steps to successfully navigating the winter months at work below:
- Prevention is better than cure
Encourage your employees to invest in maintaining a clean and hygienic workplace environment, and this will benefit your business with better attendance rates. Little touches such as providing hand sanitiser and putting up ‘Please wash your Hands’ or ‘Catch it, Bin it, Kill it’ posters to prompt hygienic practice. Promoting the NHS Smokefree campaign may also be of benefit, as smokers typically have a weaker immune system than non-smokers.
- Have an Adverse Weather Policy in place
Harsh winters cause travel disruptions and school snow days, but employees need to know where they stand should such an occasion arise. More details on how to put an effective policy in place can be found on our blog
- Be clear on the Sickness Policy, pay and reporting procedure
These should form part of the Employee Handbook, but it doesn’t hurt to remind the workforce of the particulars as the Winter months’ approach. A policy outlining who they need to contact, by what time of day and by what method is imperative. Not knowing when absent employees may return to work will have a huge impact on the day-to-day operations and is likely to demoralise those staff who have to provide cover. Good record keeping would suggest you enforce the completion of self-certification forms and Return to work interviews.
- Plan for absenteeism in advance
Even with policies and procedures in place designed to manage and minimise sickness and absenteeism, there is no sure-fire way to eradicate it completely. Employees will be off throughout the year for their annual leave anyway, so adjustments and preparations need to be made to redistribute responsibilities and ensure the continued smooth running of all operations. The employees who form part of the team or department to which the absent individual belongs will be best equipped to advise on how to rearrange the workload but it’s wise to oversee this as a manager to avoid unequal redistribution and ill feeling among colleagues.