All employees will get sick from time to time and need some time off to get better, problems such as having the flu, migraines or back pain can all require an employee needing a day off. But what happens when you have an employee who has an ongoing health condition? They will have to take more sick leave than the average employee, which is likely to result in less productivity in their work. While you can’t find a solution to an employee’s suffering, you can find ways to support them. Here are some ways how to create a positive working environment for when they can make it in.
Establish a policy
It all starts with your company policy, once you have established a compassionate employee illness policy, you can communicate your company culture in a clear and positive way. In the document it’s a good idea to outline your expectations, this could include asking sick employees to contact their line manager at the start of each day of the absence, keeping them update and always supplying a doctor’s note when required to. For those illnesses that can be planned around, it could be a good idea to implement a working from home policy during particular days or flexitime.
Have a strategy so that you are prepared for situations when an employee needs to take a large amount of absence due to an illness. It should be made to suit the specific needs of your company, this could include having prepping staff for looking after the ill employee’s workload from time to time and implementing realistic deadlines.
Allow time off for doctor appointments, this is an important day to day task that people should be given time for. When a recruit starts make it clear to them that you have no problem with them taking time out of their day to attend an appointment regarding their health. If it’s possible in your line of work, allow the employee to work from home. It may be a more comfortable environment for them and they will appreciate you letting them work from home, resulting in a higher level of productivity from them. Some conditions, such as back problems will require specialist equipment in the office, make sure to always tailor your office to your employee’s needs.
Employees will be more motivated if you take their suggestions on board, if they ask for flexitime or want to work from home more often, then allow this. They will appreciate being listened to which will increase their working motivation. Keeping the lines of communication open with your employees is essential, make sure to monitor ill employees to make sure they are not taking on more than they can handle and be prepared to make any additional modifications in the workplace if needed. However, there will be employees who don’t want to speak about their issues, in this case it’s important to not pressure them into saying anything and to let them know that you are available to talk to at any time.
There are some illnesses that may not be so easy to spot, such as mental illness. It can be tempting to avoid this topic with an employee but it’s important to approach and talk to a worker who you feel may be experiencing this. Resolving the issue at an early stage will prevent the issue from getting worse over time. Arrange a meeting as soon as possible and approach the topic in a positive and compassionate way.
If a staff member has to take a period of time off due to an illness, try and keep them in the loop. It will be easy for them become isolated, so regular e-mail updates about the workplace will keep them content and make their return to work easier. Before an employee returns to work, arrange a meeting outside the office so they can express any concerns they may have. Make sure to welcome them back and check that they are well enough to return before getting stuck back into their work.
It’s easy to get caught up with the ill employee but don’t forget about your other staff members. When team members become aware that a work colleague is experiencing mental ill health they may find it distressing. You should be willing to support your team in the same way you do with the employee. This could be having regular catch-ups with each employee to see how they are doing and express they you are available at any time to talk about any concerns or worries they have.
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