How to minimise absenteeism in your SME

16 / 12 / 19

Sickness absence isn’t to be taken for granted with costs to UK businesses estimated at £29 billion and an average loss of 6.3 days each year per employee. And so, it’s important not to underestimate the importance of health and wellbeing as part of your people culture to ensure you gain from improvements in productivity, engagement and performance as well as reduced rates in absenteeism.

Implementation of a wellbeing program

We’ve previously featured several blogs centered around improving the overall health, well-being and mental health of your employees. By implementing a wellbeing program, you are proactively helping to mitigate absenteeism as well as demonstrating sustainable business practices. Educating your staff and giving them the tools, such as training days, health campaigns and workshops etc. will give your employees the greatest opportunity to feel their best in both the workplace and at home.

Reducing work-related stress

Work related stress and anxiety is the leading cause for ill health and sickness absence in Britain today – In fact, figures showed they amounted to 0.6 million cases last year. Therefore, tackling this issue head-on is a must, but how? Use your management team to really delve into how their teams are feeling and performing. They are your eyes and ears and work with their employees day in, day out. You could factor in questions to your employee engagement survey as well to gain a wider picture. An employee could be stressed due to all manner of things, from heavy workloads and difficulties with colleagues, to uncomfortable working conditions or personal issues. Whatever the root cause, as long as you know you can start to aid in reducing and addressing it.

Employee engagement

Employee engagement is imperative and offering incentives to your staff is a great way of exercising this. It would be particularly salient to offer health based incentives such as healthy snacks, on-site lunchtime pampering sessions or discounted gym memberships or on-site group workouts.

It’s important for your employees to feel part of something, so they’re happy coming to work and engaging with peers and customers – After all, it’s human nature. So, think about facilitating opportunities for employees to engage with one another, such as team-building exercises. If an employee feels like part of the team as well as appreciated and recognized, they have a far stronger sense of motivation to come into the office.

The actual office environment will play in a big part in this also, so think about your office layout and ambiance – Create a space whereby your employees want to spend their time.

Employee support

As noted previously, work environment may not be the direct cause of work-related stress, however, it will be impacted by it. There may be genuine personal reasons a staff member is calling in sick. But do you know about it? Are you and your management team supportive and approachable? Are team members educated in supporting fellow employees? Businesses need to create a safe environment whereby employees do feel comfortable opening up – whether that’s to their line managers, peers or HR department, so you can start implementing a support plan to help them to move forwards.

Flexible working

One of our previous articles discussed, in depth, how beneficial flexible working is for both the employee and the employer. For example, a member of staff with family obligations are less likely to be absent from work if flexible working is taken into consideration. Could they split their time over several days or work from home when required? Of course this would need to be consistent throughout the organisation but flexible working is a key driver for both existing employees and new recruits so will also have a large impact on recruitment and retention within any business type.

Holiday allowance and unpaid leave

Employee absenteeism is largely due to burnout or the need to take days off for personal reasons. Therefore, offering a decent holiday package or the opportunity to take unpaid leave will inevitably help employees feel happier regarding their work/life balance. Each and every person will have doctors appointments or nativity plays and sports days and by offering a fair amount of paid annual leave and the opportunity of unpaid leave will make sure they don’t call in sick or begin the journey on the downward spiral of workplace stress which leaves them feeling incapable of managing their work-life balance.

Counselling and occupational health support

Many workplaces nowadays offer their employees counselling and occupational health support. As quoted by Personnel today’: Workplace counselling is an employee support intervention that is usually short term in nature and provides an independent, specialist resource for people working across all sectors and in all working environments. Giving all employees access to a free, confidential, workplace counselling service can potentially be viewed as part of an employer’s duty of care.

Management

Do your line managers have the necessary skills to manage a team? If they aren’t effectively managing their direct reports then this can have a colossal effect on absence rates and the wider team. The competence or incompetence of a manager can have a huge impact on the happiness and motivation of employees and so behind each happy and content worker, is a competent, happy and motivated manager.

Learning and development

Do current team members feel invested in? Are they bored in their role or do they feel that there is adequate opportunity to learn and develop? Learning and development is an important element of any business, whatever the size and whatever the industry. Why? Put simply, learning is your competitive advantage and happy employees won’t call in sick. It’s important to make sure this is at the forefront of your mind and you have a learning and development program in place.

We’ve written articles on each of the subheadings above – why? Because this is what makes for a well-rounded, productive, motivated and happy workforce and if you get these elements right, we’re certain your absenteeism rates will decrease in both the short and long-term. If you need help with any of these areas, please don’t hesitate to contact us on: 01453 297557 or email enquiries@peepshr.co.uk


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