Luke Watkeys, Business Manager
Domestic or carer issues;
Stress or workload;
Low motivation at work;
They may even have another job!
In short, there are many reasons that an employee may decide to tell you that they’re sick.
So why is this important? Firstly, it isn’t about doubting your staff. It doesn’t mean that the next time Jeanette decides to take a sickie that you should shine a light into her eyes until she admits she was perfectly well and in fact spending the day at Alton Towers.
It means being aware that one of the principles of managing absence well is about creating a culture where high levels of sickness absence are prevented in the first place and that your team are given plenty of opportunities to be open and honest with you about the reasons for poor attendance.
Now on to the practicalities. Having a robust and consistently applied sickness policy, making it mandatory to hold return-to-work meetings after an absence of any length (yes, even half a day!) will go a long way to creating this culture. Setting clear trigger points to define up front what an above average level of sickness is and holding formal meetings when such triggers are met will go even further.
The aim and tone of any sickness absence meetings should not be about disputing the genuine nature of an illness, unless you have very good reasons for doubting the employee’s reasons for absence (e.g. spotting them running around at Alton Towers when allegedly off with a sprained ankle). If this is the case, you should raise the doubt and give them the opportunity to explain.
The message is that you are concerned about their well-being because their level of absence is higher than the norm and you want to support their safe and regular attendance at work. Always set a review period with clear expectations and outline the next steps if these are not met.
Managing absence well is not a simple task, but get it right, and you’ll reduce the number of people who feel it necessary to put on the trademark sick voice because they are demotivated at work or some other such reason. Not only this, but you’ll save yourself a bundle of cash in lost time.