As offices reopen and employees navigate the challenges of the new normal, there’s an urgent need to rethink the approach to sick leaves. This is especially critical with the imminent cold and flu season. However, despite wellness being on everyone’s radar, employees seem reluctant to take days off even when they’re under the weather.
Recent research from BambooHR throws light on a concerning trend: almost nine out of ten employees work when they’re sick. Alarmingly, 15% never take time off due to illness, and a quarter claim they’ve been pressured to work even when they should be recuperating.
When dealing with sick leave, it’s essential for employers to align with state or local regulations. But as Anita Grantham, the Chief HR Officer at BambooHR, suggests, it might be time to do more than just the minimum. A more empathetic approach, rooted in communication and proactive planning, could be the key.
Stress-Free Sick Leaves:
Understanding that taking sick leave can be a source of anxiety for many employees is essential. According to BambooHR’s findings, four in ten employees stress about requesting time off due to illness, while almost an equal number feel anxious about it. Grantham believes the solution lies in a clear sick leave policy that reduces ambiguity. She also champions the idea of incorporating “buffer times” to all deadlines, ensuring that tasks remain on track even in an employee’s absence. A system where employees can cover for each other, much like players substituting in a sports team, might be worth considering.
Leading by Example:
A policy is only as effective as its implementation. If the leadership doesn’t adhere to it, why would the employees? It’s crucial for those in positions of authority to set the right example. They need to prioritize their health and stay home when unwell, ensuring that employees recognize the importance of self-care and recovery.
Prioritize Health Discussions:
Grantham emphasizes the importance of fostering a culture where health isn’t a taboo subject but a regular topic of discussion. Initiatives like mobile health camps or health-awareness drives can be instrumental. For instance, merging a blood donation camp with a fun, community-building activity like a “trunk or treat” during Halloween can create positive associations around wellness.
Furthermore, having a dedicated person to check in on employees on extended sick or medical leaves ensures that they feel cared for and valued, making a massive difference in their recovery and overall well-being.
A large portion of employees believes in the right to privacy regarding their reasons for taking sick leave, especially in today’s world where mental health concerns often necessitate time off. As Grantham points out, it’s vital for employers to respect this privacy, focusing more on the well-being of the employee rather than the specifics of their condition.
In conclusion, the way employers handle sickness in the office needs an overhaul. By adopting policies that prioritize employee wellness, backed by supportive leadership, companies can foster healthier work environments. This not only ensures productivity but also builds a more understanding, empathetic, and resilient workforce.