Decreasing Sick Leave – Eight Tips for Managers and HR

<span id="hs_cos_wrapper_name" class="hs_cos_wrapper hs_cos_wrapper_meta_field hs_cos_wrapper_type_text" style="" data-hs-cos-general-type="meta_field" data-hs-cos-type="text" >Decreasing Sick Leave – Eight Tips for Managers and HR</span>

No one should have to get sick or suffer an injury while at work. This should be taken for granted, but unfortunately, the reality looks quite different. In today’s work life, lack of resources, a fast-paced work environment, stress, and pressure are increasingly causing more sick leave. But as a manager, there are many things you can do to reduce sick leave in your organization. Here are eight tips (and one bonus tips) on the way. Creating a good work environment where people perform well and are healthy is a great challenge for many organizations. In a report from Svenskt Näringsliv, nearly 30 % of the companies stated that they have sufficient problems with sick leave. Going back a few years, mental illness has been the number one cause of sick leave, and the most significant increase is due to stress-related diagnoses. Number two on the list is back and joint problems.

A Healthy Work Environment – an Investment that Pays Off

Research shows a connection between the work environment and sick leave. This suggests that the manager and board have the possibility to make improvements by putting their efforts into the work environment. And working against illness and sick leave is essential for several reasons – not only does sick leave cause personal suffering and loss of income for those affected, but it is also costly for the company in terms of reduced productivity, rehabilitation, and recruitment of replacements. In other words, high costs can be saved with proper measures, whereas you increase overall well-being, motivation, and effectiveness – something that will benefit the entire workplace.

Eight Ways to Reducing Sick Leve

What keeps employees healthy in the workplace? Research suggests that some success factors are responsive leadership, community, and clarity. But how do you get there in practice? And what warning signs should the manager look out for? We have summarized the best tips from the experts.

  1. Be a Present Manager Several studies show that leadership has a crucial role in the well-being of employees. The leadership keywords of healthy workplaces are presence, trust, responsiveness, and empathy. In these workplaces, the managers are available to the employees, show interest and concern about how they are doing, and regularly provide encouragement and feedback. In addition, the foundation of good leadership is a functional organization, where managers are trained and supported in their roles and given the time and resources to prioritize the employees and their well-being.Through the Occupational Health Services (Företagshälsovården, in Swedish), your company can be assisted with guidance regarding work environment, health care, and rehabilitation.
  2. Do a Work Environment Wellness Check-up How do you utilize your staff appraisals? Used correctly, they can help you get a good overview of how your employees are doing. Make sure your appraisal form also includes questions relating to the work environment, relationships with colleagues, workload, and physical working conditions. Anonymous employee surveys are also a valuable tool for evaluating the overall well-being of the workplace, especially when you are actively working to improve the work environment.
  3. Work with Measurable Goals Setting goals for a better work environment and health will help you work strategically and in the same direction. Efforts to decrease sick leave should always start with an inventory of the current situation, and from this starting point, identifying areas of improvement. Think about which health measurements are applicable; it’s essential that they are specific and measurable. Health measurements could include reduced noise levels, absenteeism, or overtime. Better results in employee surveys are also an example of this. The next step is establishing an action plan that clarifies which activities should be performed, when, and by whom. According to The Work Environment Authority regulations, all companies must also have a work environment policy that establishes what the physical and psychosocial work environment should look like. Preferably, the policy should be modelled in cooperation between the employer, employee, and safety representative and build further on your goals and action plan.
  4. Create Community Community and the possibility to influence decisions are important elements of a healthy work environment. For example, it can involve employees having a say in questions relating to working conditions and hours and encouraging and managing improvements. As a manager, you should also offer the employees the possibility of developing at work, for example, by getting training or trying out new work tasks. It’s pretty straightforward: influence, community, and control over one’s situation will ensure happier and more engaged employees.
  5. Create an Open Climate A workplace culture characterized by openness and consideration provides a conducive environment for the well-being of employees. Therefore, it would be best if you strive for an environment where it is ok to talk about worries and problems. Hopefully, this will make the employees more inclined to communicate if they are ill. They will also become more attentive to their co-workers and their health. Having solid and dynamic core values with guidelines for how to treat each other is also an effective remedy against bullying and discrimination. You accomplish this by ensuring that your values are well anchored with all employees and by keeping an ongoing dialogue with questions such as “What kind of workplace climate do we want?” and “How do we show each other respect during the workdays”?

    It’s essential that you act as soon as possible at the first sign of illness.

  6. Be Straightforward We all benefit from straightforwardness and structure. Make sure your employees understand their work tasks and areas of responsibility. It is also important that goals and expectations are clearly defined, don’t clash, and that the employees feel they have the right resources to fulfil them. If their to-do list is heavy, give your employees support to sort and prioritize their tasks. Creating protection from stress and unhealthy workloads is a powerful way to reduce sick leave.
  7. Catch Early Warning Signs You have your suspicions that everything isn’t right with an employee, but they haven’t said anything to you about it. As a manager, what do you do? It’s essential that you act as soon as possible at the first sign of illness; your chances of shortening or even preventing sick leave then increase. Schedule a meeting with your employee to find out more about the situation. If you need guidance, you can contact the Occupational Health Services. Some of the warning signals you need to keep track of are: - recurring short time absence - depression and resignation - concentration difficulties - decreased engagement - conflicts - many overtime hours.
  8. Invest in Healthcare A more robust immune system, better performance, increased stress tolerance – and in the long run, reduced sick leave. Companies that invest in employee healthcare have a lot to gain. Use the possibility of offering your employees wellness allowance to engage in physical activities or other activities that promote a healthy lifestyle. Such activities could include step challenges, group activities, work gym access, and lectures about food and health.

Bonus Tips: Use Smart Tools for Statistics and Key Figures

Sick leave is clear proof of how the workplace is doing. It’s important to regularly follow up on and analyze short- and long-term absences, their causes, and their development over time. By keeping track of your key figures, you have great chances of steering the company’s health in the right direction and ensuring that your efforts to reduce sick leave offer the desired outcome. In our web-based personnel system Flex HRM, we have made it easy to gain valuable insight from your employee data. Use our report generator, create your tailor-made reports precisely as you prefer, and share them with your colleagues – everything with just a few clicks. Or check out our HR dashboard! With its clever and intuitive graphics, it delivers a snapshot of sick leave, personnel retention, and other key figures – instantly making you aware of undesired changes. Please get in touch with us if you want to know more!

You may also be interested in