Winter is well and truly here. We all get sick from time to time no matter what the season is and need to take time off, so it’s important that employers have a strategic plan in place to deal with staff absences as and when they arise.

So what can be done to minimise the impact on your business?

Implementing some key, yet fairly simple measures will certainly help.

  • Recording absences – It’s of paramount importance that all absence is recorded – each company will have their own methods of doing this, but a personnel system is often the easiest and most effective way. Even odd days off here and there need to be recorded, not because you want to make trouble for an ill employee, but because you may need it for HR purposes in the future.
  • Be consistent in your approach to dealing with all sickness absence issues – You should have clear and concise policies surrounding sickness which should be known to staff. Whether it’s your PA or someone in a totally different office, you need to ensure that all staff members are treated fairly and equally, without discrimination.
  • Back to work interviews – Make sure that return-to-work interviews are held with all employees upon their return to work. Whilst someone is off sick, especially if over an extended period, stay in contact with them during the period of absence and ensure you have signed fit notes (sick notes) where necessary. Where an individual is off longer term, explore the possibility of them returning to work on a phased return or reduced duties to suit their change in circumstances.
  • Shared responsibilities – If you have one team member working completely independently in a role or on a project and they go off sick for a week, it can be a difficult trying to organise cover within your team and keep everything running smoothly. By ensuring that your team are sharing knowledge and updates, you will be able to minimise the disruption and ensure the ill employee does not feel they need to return before they should as they feel under pressure.
  • Flexible working – Depending on the illness, you can offer the affected employee the chance to work from home whilst they are unwell. For seasonal/minor illnesses like coughs, colds and flu sometimes people are not well enough to face their commute and an office full of people (plus you don’t want them spreading their germs), but they could cope with their duties from the comfort of their home sofa. Here at VST, we have facilities in place that allow staff to work from home on a temporary basis if illness strikes.
  • Time management system – A self-service time management system could be the answer to your prayers of reducing time spent on recording annual leave, and means employees are more aware of their individual entitlements. We have an automated cloud based system in place at VST that logs hours, holidays and entitlement, as well as emergency contacts, starts dates, review dates and any all personal documents and data can be scanned and stored in one place securely.

If you’d like to work for a flexible, progressive company, get in touch with VST today. Call Hannah on 01604 609 940 or visit the careers page for more information.