Managing Absenteeism This Winter

Office absenteeism

Is Winter making it hard for you to run a professional, profitable business?

According to a survey released by Pharma Dynamics, almost 40% of South Africans are planning on “pulling a sickie” in June or July. Absenteeism is one of the major drivers of lost revenue, costing the South African economy around R12 to R16 billion per year!

For an organization to be successful, it needs a committed and engaged workforce. Staff absenteeism tend to soar during the winter months affecting business productivity and profits.

Illnesses such as colds and flu are clearly the most frequently mentioned reason for absence, with 95% of employees citing this as a cause for their sick leave. The stress epidemic is the second most common reason for the increase in ill health followed by common complaints of back pain, muscular-skeletal injuries, and recurring medical conditions.

Whatever the reason, the average medium sized company is losing up to 750 days a year to absenteeism. How does your company measure up?

True, it’s difficult to plan for unexpected absences, but there are steps that you can take to reduce absenteeism:

  • Have a clear absence reporting policy. Make sure everyone must phone in sick – no text messages or emails – and that it must be before 9:15 am. Employees facing the prospect of a quizzing from HR might think twice before faking it.
  • Have a clear, well-communicated absence policy. Cover the following: -method of notification, -when a self-certification form or medical certificate should be presented, -sick pay arrangements, -consequences of not complying with the policy.
  • Treat everyone the same.
  • Record and analyse sick days. This will give you valuable insight into the frequency of absence.
  • Carry out a “return to work” interview. Use this opportunity to welcome the employee back and to update him/her on the latest developments.
  • Offer incentives. Many organizations offer perfect attendance bonusses to reduce absence levels.
  • Create a friendly environment. Make sure that staff feel valued. Have family friendly policies, such as flexitime in place to keep absenteeism to a minimum.
  • Offer support. When an employee is going through a tough time allow him/her to arrive late and/or leave early to get a child to/from a childcare arrangement. Working from home might be an option for a certain period of time.
  • Update your policy to suit employee and business needs.

Remember, happy and healthy employees take less time off.

So, initiate a few health and well-being campaigns. Email reminders of how hand hygiene can avoid colds and viruses. Promote the positive impact of a healthy diet, exercise and quality sleep. Also, workplace vaccinations are a highly effective way of avoiding long-term absences caused by flu. Providing training in stress management to individuals in need could boost company morale and increase work performance.

Failure to manage absenteeism can cost your company dearly. Are you on top of it?




Leave a Reply