The concept of a national sickie day is probably a myth, but it serves to highlight workplace issues that can cause people to take unnecessary days of. A lot of people have experienced it at some point in their lives, where they can’t bear the thought of going to work and ‘pull a sickie’ to get out of it. But what can employers do to create a culture that reduces the chances of employees feeling like this?
Employers aren’t helpless to act. There are a number of steps that can be taken that will result in less sick days and a more enthusiastic approach to work.
1. Communicate. People like to be kept informed and to understand the vision and purpose of the organisation. Ensure people are kept up to date with progress and how their role contributes to the organisation’s success.
2. Ensure HR and People policies are up to date and provide for training and development with an environment free from harassment and bullying.
3. Look to flexible working with a variation of contractual hours and roles. If you opt for homeworking, make sure you carry out the right work station assessments and have insurance as well as getting your communication methods right. People are not built to be isolated and many can find it more stressful than getting into the work place.
4. Have the right competency framework and performance management processes in place. Set goals and targets for individuals and review regularly. It’s a great way to check in with someone’s needs.
5. Make sure managers have the right leadership qualities. Research shows the biggest cause of stress for employees is the manager subordinate relationship. Train manager’s skills and review them regularly. Coaching is a great way of ensuring the development of high performance in managers.
6. In recent research by Morgan Redwood, work-life balance was the number one contributor to morale. Ensure you get it right for staff, bearing in mind what works for one might not work for someone else.
7. Wellbeing is another area at the top of the list in supporting morale for employees. This isn’t simply rebadging health and safety; it’s about genuinely helping staff to build up their resilience levels for mental and emotional needs as well as physical and nutritional.
8. Provide staff with encouragement and support. Providing activities such as yoga, meditation and exercise classes can encourage those that don’t want to spend an hour in the gym to get active. Policies such as cycling to work, assistance with funding for bicycles etc. are another way of supporting people rather than the traditional reduction in gym fees.
9. Relaxation is a fundamental part of our wellbeing. Be an organisation that helps people to learn how to switch off. You can provide classes in relaxation and meditation techniques as well as providing on-site shoulder massage and other such support.
10. Build in suggestion schemes, awards for a job well done, social and family events. Bring your employees together and build teamwork so you create a strong culture that everyone can connect to.
The steps to a better workplace culture are simple ones, but ones that can prove extremely effective when combined. You don’t have to implement all of the steps to notice a difference, even just a few will go some way to improving the overall culture. Make your workplace one that people are enthusiastic about being part of and you’ll make unnecessary sick days, if not a thing of the past, then certainly a rare occurrence.