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How to avoid your employees "pulling a sickie"

Carrie Hamer

The first February of every year has been named National Sickie Day, which has traditionally seen the highest number of workers call in sick. So why might people feel the need to “pull a sickie”, and what can businesses do to avert this? Rowlinson provides the following advice to business leaders.

1. Put people first – Putting people before profit gets the best out of your people and the organisation. The pandemic has shone a spotlight on the importance of genuine care in the workplace, with those that have fallen short suffering reputational damage. Employee-owned invoke greater engagement and productivity, improved employee retention and greater customer satisfaction. And happier people means fewer absences. Putting people first is no longer a “nice to have”, but a commercial imperative.

2. Adopt clear values and a strong purpose - A clear and relatable purpose provides a common goal that everyone can work towards, uniting colleagues and creating a greater sense of responsibility to each other. A values-led business ensures that all decisions are aligned with a central moral compass. Matched by recruiting people who exhibit these values, everyone cares about the business doing well and are less likely to take unnecessary time off.

3. Show kindness – Businesses needs to value compassion and caring for others, reinforced in everything it does, from how people are treated during the recruitment process through to how they’re managed on a daily basis.

4. Exhibit fairness – Favouritism reaps disillusionment and resentment so be fair in everything, from pay and rewards through to development opportunities. And if you’re not a real Living Wage employer, what message is this sending to your people?

5. Be flexible and understanding – This is crucial at all times, especially during a crisis. Businesses must allow their people the flexibility to work around other commitments, while being understanding and accommodating about their availability for meetings and ability to meet deadlines.

6. Show gratitude - If your people don't think you appreciate them, they'll feel more willing to fake illness for some time off. Staff recognition must become part and parcel of daily working life, with managers showing appreciation of their teams, and peer-to-peer recognition encouraged.

Organisations with consistently high rates of absenteeism must take a long, hard look at their business model, culture and leadership style. Even just a few improvements to workplace culture, so that people feel more motivated and engaged to do their best, could make the world of difference!