Not well? Stay home!
Illness is a huge problem for businesses of all sizes, with staff absence costing UK employers billions of pounds each year. Slogging into work when we feel unwell often feels like the right thing to do, especially in a small business where there are less people to cover the work. By coming in and soldiering on, many of us feel like we’re doing the company a favour and helping to keep things running. However, the real effect of doing this is very different:
- Making our colleagues (and customers!) ill too – infections can spread far more effectively
- Work is affected – whether it’s productivity or quality, we’re not functioning on all cylinders
- You’ll feel bad for longer – taking more time to recover and generally feeling worse than if you rest
- Loss of energy and motivation – resting and recovering properly will allow you to return to work refreshed and raring to go
Together this results in the average adult taking over 9 days off work each year. Changing our attitude to calling in sick can help to remedy the problem and reduce the £23bn cost to UK businesses*.
Winter compounds the problem – we all spend more time indoors, and colds and other viruses are rife. So how can small businesses help themselves?
- Communication – most importantly make sure everyone understands and believes that taking a sick day won’t affect their career or standing in the company.
- Organisation – Establish who can cover whose work if someone is ill, so staff don’t feel as pressured to turn up for work. Document procedures so everyone know what to do if a key person is away.
- Hygiene practices – basic actions like clean hands, and keeping your distance if you think you’re coming down with something
- Work life balance – over worked and exhausted people are more prone to illness. Do what you can put an end to self-sacrificing behaviours
- Healthy living – if you can afford it, little touches like office fruit encourage people to get their five a day. Why not treat everyone to juice or smoothies as a weekly breakfast vitamin boost? You could also encourage your team to get involved in healthy social activities like lunchtime runs, walks or gym sessions to keep people fighting off germs all year round.
Setting an example is also important. If people see their boss working long hours, skipping meals (or eating junk food) and putting their health and wellbeing at the bottom of the agenda, they’ll think that’s what you expect of them too. Show them what a proper work-life balance looks like, and encourage them to look after themselves. They in turn will feel valued and appreciated, which goes a long way to gaining their loyalty to your company long-term.
Here’s to the best of health for your and your staff in 2017!