First and foremost, employers must be aware of working conditions and structures that can help discover any pains or challenges – both physical and mental – that in time could develop into long term sick leave.
Some short term sick leave can be very difficult to remove as it is often due to season-related infections and diseases such as the cold. Reversely, organisations can reduce long-term sick leave if they approach it with the right effort and strategy.
The NHS report from 2017 on Reducing Sickness Absence recommends a mix of factors to reduce employee absenteeism and proactively approach long-term sick leave.
You might also like: 5 tips to reduce sick leave with optimized ergonomics.
Manage and analyse work absences
Before getting started with measures against sick leave, it is essential to understand and determine the most common symptoms and causes of absence. What are the most recurring sick leave reasons? Are there any influencing triggers or factors? HR or the company’s insurance company should be able to identify these.
Choose your staff with care
Some illnesses are based on mental health and can be caused by frustration, demotivation, cognitive overload or simply a poor atmosphere in the workplace. As an organisation, you can affect this by the way you choose your personnel or team members. Do they have the right social skills to fit in? Is the employee the right match in terms of being under- or over-challenged? Does the employee fit into the overall organisational culture?
Flexible working hours
One thing the pandemic taught us is that workers enjoy added flexibility. A dynamic work schedule allows workers to approach the day to fit their daily lives, fostering productivity through work-life balance. The more satisfied workers are with meeting their individual needs, the more motivated they become at work.
Improving workspace and pains
You must consider the physical working climate when digging into the long term sick leave causes. Do workers have the best possible ergonomic conditions to do their work? Do they sit in the right light with a minimum of noise disturbance? How is the indoor climate when it comes to heat and odours?
It turns out that people have a lot to say when it comes to designing their workplace, so let them have a say and feel involved.
Proactively talk with workers
Setting routines to have proactive talks with workers about their wellbeing is a surefire way to get peoples’ needs out in the open and understand the atmosphere in the workplace. Focus on those who have frequent short-term absences, those coming back from long term sick leave and keep an open the door to whoever feels like dropping in. These talks should provide an understanding of the fundamental causes of absence while providing potential solutions.
Focus on increasing team spirit
Do activities that increase the company culture and strengthen workers’ interrelations to become more social. It builds a more robust and more constructive bond between workers and with management.
Health is one of the most important factors to preventing illnesses – both physical and mental. While an organisation cannot order people to the gym, some tools encourage a more active lifestyle that can be used in the office. An office gym, a run after hours, or a weekly yoga instructor can boost the workplace’s health and social aspects.
Want to learn more about sick leave? Read more here.