Prevent the poorly! How to reduce levels of absenteeism in the workplace

An image of a sick teddy bear in bed with an orange overlay and the blog title "Prevent the poorly, How to reduce levels of absenteeism in the workplace"

There’s no doubt that absenteeism is on the rise, with AccessPeopleHR reporting a 55% increase in sickness absence rates since 2019. So are people all getting sicker, is the pandemic to blame, or is there more nuance to the issue? 

While illness among staff is an unfortunate inevitability, empowering your people to prioritise their health and preventing stress can help to minimise staff illness and burnout. Here’s some things that you can address to help reduce the sick days taken in your office. 

Let people take sick days! 

This might sound counterintuitive but hear us out. When employees feel pressured to go into the workplace when they’re sick, not only are they not getting the rest they need to get better, they could be spreading their sickness to others.

Sometimes people need to be reminded that it’s okay to take sick days, especially when they’re contagious. If rest is needed to recuperate and get better, then this is what will ultimately have the employee returning to the workplace sooner. Plus, having someone come to work with a violent cough and spreading it to coworkers, clients, and potentially customers doesn’t help anyone!

Work from home 

If your workplace has the facilities to enable working from home, this could be another option. Your staff member may be contagious with a sniffly cold but feeling fine to work. In this case, encouraging the employee to work from home means that they aren’t spreading their sickness, they have easy access to medicines, and if they need to lie down and rest, they are already home. Pushing employees to get up and out when they need to rest up could make them feel worse! Better to work from home than not work at all.

Flexibility and balance 

A common cause of employee absence is burnout, with as many as 20% of workers taking time off due to stress in the past year. What we can learn from this, is that burnout is bad from both employer and employee, and prevention is key. Enforcing policy and promoting working habits that are sustainable can help staff to have a healthy work/life balance. 

Taking breaks whether working within labour intensive or office jobs is essential. Physically demanding work necessitates physical rest, and having a screen break to stretch your legs in the office can actually make you more productive!

Another thing to remember is prompting employees to use their holiday entitlement. Ensuring that regular holiday is taken will provide staff with a break and reduce the likelihood of burnout. 

Employee Assistance Programme (EAP)

The strain on employees may not end when they get home. Not all stress-related leave is solely related to the workplace, so providing additional support for stressing factors that may be impacting your people outside of work can reassure employees.  

That’s where an EAP comes in. From legal assistance to financial guidance, speaking to an expert could help to smooth out any issues going on in an employee’s life. Sometimes counselling or advice is what is needed!

Health Benefits 

Of course one of the main ways to prevent staff absenteeism is ensuring that their physical and mental health is as good as it can be. Not all health issues are preventable, but aiding employees in taking care of themselves is a great start. 

Implementing a health and wellbeing programme could work wonders, with our package including an EAP, gym discounts, savings on food and supplement subscriptions, and plenty of other resources.

Or, opting for employee health insurance benefits may provide a safety net for when life just happens. 

Vocalise it!

Once you’ve got a clear policy in place, health and wellness benefits, and flexible working, it’s your job to communicate it to employees. Making your team aware and having reminders and demos of any platforms is the best way to increase benefit uptake, increase employee engagement, and get employees focusing on their health. 

And if you’ve got benefits and a workplace culture that you’re proud of, that’s worth shouting about!

Contact the My Staff Shop team to learn more about our EAP and Employee Health Benefits.

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