February 1st is ‘National Sickie Day’, a day in which it is estimated that 350,000 workers will take a sickie. This will cost businesses more than £30 million in lost business opportunities, reduced productivity and salary/overtime payments.
A survey by Employment Law Advisory Services (ELAS), shows that of the 1,500 bosses interviewed for the nationwide survey, half said they did not believe staff who complained of being ill. So why do they phone in sick and feel comfortable claiming illness not to go into work?
It could be any number of reasons and managers need to find out what those reasons are if they are to actually ‘manage’ their staff. All too often managers feel that their staff should not take advantage simply because they pay them a wage but there’s much more to it than that. If you are a manager, when was the last time you pulled a sickie? Why did you?
Staff pull sickies, not just because they are taking advantage and want an extra day off but also because they are either unhappy in their workplace or something has happened at home that needs dealt with.
We need to be making the most out of our staff, especially now when the economic situation in still on a knife edge and we may well have had to cut costs by cutting the number of people we employ. If business is to grow again we need to ensure our staff our productive and going the extra mile…not just doing enough or working to rule.
So what do we do to lower the number of staff who pull a sickie?
Employee engagement is vital if we are to make the most of our staff. Engagement means that staff are committed to your organisation and they are aligned. In other words, do they care about their work and do they know what their responsibilties are and how they fit with the wider organisation. So how do we engage our staff?
First of all, in order to understand the behaviour of others you need to understand their motives, needs and desires. The only way of finding out this information is to ask them, on a regular and consistent basis. Appraisals and regular update meetings can be the perfect opportunity to discover what makes your staff tick. How many of you are getting the benefits of appraisal though and how many of you dread them coming?
Do your staff know what is expected of them? Have you provided detail about what their responsibilities are and the impact of them not completing their jobs correctly is? Do they have job description? Do you keep them informed of company performance?
Are staff trusted? Think of the last time someone gave you work and then watched over your shoulder as you completed it. Does it feel like they trusted you to do a good job? Ok so, their capability will affect how much support you give them, but do you consider how capable they are and behave accordingly?
Do you communicate openly and with transparancy? It’s important to keep everyone in the loop or you will be dealing with gossip and rumour. Neither helpful and certainly not easy to correct once rife.
What’s the atmosphere like in your teams. If there are personality clashes or unhealthy competition, this could be a reason staff take a sickie. Maybe they just can’t deal with the relationships prevalent in the office anymore.
Are you flexible about work hours? If one of your staff has a burst pipe, would they ring and explain what has happened and know that you understand it needs sorted or would they ring in a sickie because you would insist on them coming into work?
Have you built loyalty in your staff by supporting them, providing them with development opportunities and career progression? If you haven’t then why would your staff go the extra mile for you? The last time you went out of your way for someone – why did you do that? Your staff have the same motivation needs as you.
Finally, the biggest influence on whether your staff will pull a sickie is their relationship with you. If you care about your staff and build rapport with them, they are more likely to go the extra for you, and less likely to take advantage.
If you are the type to crawl into work no matter what state you are in…why do you do that? If you have built engagement into your organisations culture then you won’t be wondering where your staff are today.