By the third ring of the 8:04 phone call, you know what’s going on.  Another day, another staff member off sick due to illness. A quick disclaimer: we cannot stop your staff members from being ill. Nothing can prevent Jane from HR falling off a donkey at the seaside and fracturing her ankle on a Sunday afternoon. Not even PATH can stop that from happening! But what we can do is help you to figure out how to manage (and prepare for) staff sickness.

Tip #1: Buy a water cooler

Now, bear with me. Drinking water improves health.  It can’t stop your staff members from falling from their equine companions, but it can certainly help them feel alert, hydrated and even flushes out toxins. Many people simply forget to drink water when they’re engrossed in lengthy emails and taxing spreadsheets, their eyes glued to the screen like they’ve been hypnotised. The humble water cooler is a step in the right direction towards hydrated, happy, healthy employees.

Tip #2: Check your office fridge temperatures

Another weird one, but go with it. We (should) all know who our office first aider is. Yes? We know who checks the alarms, who locks the doors at the end of the day. But who checks the fridge temperature? Hmm. Fridges should be set to 0-5C (32-41F) to effectively keep produce at the right temperature. I’m talking dairy and meat mainly. Assign a member of staff to check the thermostat every now and then. It may be that David from Admin knocked it out when he carelessly threw his three-bean pasta salad in there.  That made Fatima from IT have a week off work after she tucked into her lukewarm chicken salad. It’s a small thing, but it’s important.

Tip #3: Have a sickness policy

A policy is needed that details the procedure for:

  • Reporting illness
  • Returning to work
  • Fitness for work
  • Authorised/unauthorised absences
  • Health emergencies

It helps both you and the employer to agree a common ground on staff sickness and lets them know how they can report it, where, when and why.

Tip #4: Talk

If your employee claims that their working environment is causing them to be ill, feel stressed, exhausted and sick, then something needs to be done. Arrange a meeting with the employee. Ask them what exactly about work is causing distress and illness. Do something to combat the problem:

  • Scenario 1: the hours are too long. Solution? Offer more breaks. Cut down the hours.
  • Scenario 2: the workload is too much. Solution? Consider distributing the workload to other staff.
  • Scenario 3: the targets are overwhelming. Solution? Change how you measure their success.

Tip #5: Training

Training for managers and employees on how to handle workplace stress, burnout and exhaustion is a fantastic way to raise awareness of health in the workplace. Oh? What’s that? We have a training event just like that! (Unfortunately it’s sold out now… but keep your eyes peeled for similar events in the future).

Ultimately, every little thing that you can do to improve the mental and physical wellbeing of your workforce is contributing in a small way to improvement. Keep an eye out on PATH’s upcoming training sessions and Employer’s webpage for the latest tips on employee wellbeing.

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