(SHORT NOTES FROM TEAM MANAGEMENT:
Difficult Management Situations at http://www.mindtools.com)
Sick leave for staff, whether it's used for legitimate or not-so-legitimate reasons, has become a major problem for many organizations and industries worldwide. Sick days delay work, causing projects to fall behind schedule. They create stress for other workers, who must make up for lost productivity. Other people may need to work overtime to make up for the time lost.
There are two main reasons for high rates of absenteeism: (1) an abnormal amount of illness, and (2) abuse of the system by workers who call in sick when they're actually perfectly healthy. To start improving the situation:
· Be aware of, and responsive to, subtle indications of worker unhappiness or tension.
· Offer rewards for zero absenteeism.
· Carefully educate new hires about company policies. If policies change, make sure that you educate everyone on these.
· Research and discover new methods for reducing physical stress that workers may suffer on the job.
· Provide training for managers and supervisors so they can deal perceptively and effectively with staff who have a lot of unexplained sick leave.
· Offer opportunities for in-house exercise.
· Consider giving workers additional days off, as part of their annual benefits, which are specifically for "preventive health care."
· Be flexible about allowing workers to make up time they've taken off for a legitimate reason – for example, to care for a sick family member.
The best way to avoid abuse of your sick policy is usually to promote an attitude of compassion. To reduce absenteeism, make company policies clear.