Luke Watkeys, Business Manager
The Colonel (if he were still around) would most likely put this success down to his ‘secret blend of eleven herbs and spices’; a taste that you won’t find anywhere else. It’s an alluring concept. The hush-hush mystery combined with a formula that produces a consistent result is something that no doubt creates a buzz of excitement. Well we at Real People also have such a secret blend and are going to share it today, so let us put on our Colonel suit.
Let’s talk sickness. We recognise that a certain level of absence will occur in an organisation due to sickness, injury and family or domestic crises, and would never recommend expecting staff to come into work when they are genuinely sick.
The mysterious and much sought formula is to ensure that a reasonable balance is found between the employee’s welfare and the need to maintain the effectiveness and consistency of an organisation’s services.
Sounds simple enough I hear you say. So how do you work out what the reasonable balance looks like? This is where Real People’s secret blend of four recommendations for a fair and robust sickness process comes in:
1. Look at your sickness statistics and create trigger points.
Identify what levels of absence are above the norm for your organisation and would therefore ‘trigger’ line management meetings. We recommend the ‘either or’ triggers of 10 days in any 12 month rolling period, or 3 spells in any 3 month rolling period. Applied consistently, managers can then intervene early to identify underlying problems, take action to support improved health and safety at work, and support a return to normal levels of attendance.
2. Have staged meetings.
If an employee’s sickness levels consistently go above your trigger points (highlighting an above average amount of absence), then each subsequent meeting should be at a higher level than the last. Consider having three staged meetings- two is too little time to support the employee; four could potentially make the process unnecessarily drawn out.
3. Set review periods.
When an employee’s absence has gone above the norm and a line management meeting has been held, always set an explicit review period. If the employee’s absence reaches your trigger points (pro-rata’d) within a review period, you progress to the next stage.
For a first stage meeting, 4-months would be reasonable. For a second stage meeting, consider a longer 6-month review period, and if holding a third stage meeting, consider extending the review period to 12-months.
4. Have a maintenance loop.
If at the end of a review period the attendance expectations have been met, advise the employee that no further action is necessary, but if the absence trigger points are reached again within 12-months of the end of the review period, hold a second meeting at the same or stage as the one they were on before.
Most ideas are popular because they work- be they tasty recipes, or sensible management advice. Follow our secret blend for a good taste of the latter, and watch your sickness absence rates fall.