Keeping your staff safe from the ‘ill hero’

Every business has suffered at the hands of an ill hero before. When most people are feeling ill, sneezing and coughing all over the place, they let the office know that they aren’t going to make it in that day. The ‘ill hero’ is different though. They struggle in, no matter how ill they are, stagger around the office looking like a zombie and make sure everyone knows they came into work. They like to think they are a shade tougher than the average person. But what can you do about it?

The problem is, they really aren’t that productive when they’re ill, just like the rest of us. Worse still, they risk passing whatever they have onto their colleagues. While it’s inconvenient to have someone away ill, it’s far more inconvenient to have three or four people away.

So how do you protect your small business from the super tough ill hero?

Stay at home, rest up

Make sure you encourage all staff to stay at home when they are ill, especially with something infectious. Most illness is short lived and we tend to get better a lot faster if we rest up and spend a day hiding under the duvet. Don't think of it as losing a days work. Think of it as boosting everyones productivity for a week.

Working at home

In some situations it may make sense to let people work from home for a day or two when they are recovering. This isn’t always practical though, and can easily be seen as a exploitative attempt to get people working again before they are better, so care should be taken.

Let staff know what they should do

First up, staff should let someone know they are ill. Make it clear who they should contact and put this information into the staff handbook. If you use a absence tracking tool, like Team Absence, it’s normally a simple matter of just booking the day off as sick leave, which takes care of letting everyone know.

Doctors orders

Above all, we should all listen to our doctors. If they say "stay at home and rest up for a week", that’s exactly what we should do. The doctor will be happy to provide a fit note when you’ve recovered, which is often needed for periods of illness lasting more than a few days.

Figuring out how to protect your office from the 'ill hero'
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Track sick leave

Make sure your business has a practical way of tracking when people are off ill. It’s important to keep the rest of the team informed, so meetings can be re-arranged, or schedules adjusted. Tracking sick leave also helps your business understand patterns in staff absence. Are some teams more prone to illness than others? Do you see higher incidents of illness at certain times of year? Are there common illnesses that crop up a lot? Stress? Back pain? Cold and Flu? Are some days of the week worse than others? Does sick leave go up during the World Cup….(cough, cough)?

What next?

When you can see the patterns in your business, you can start to do something to improve things. Would encouraging staff fitness with discounted gym memberships help? Perhaps a bowl of fruit next to the coffee machine would help everyone fight off minor illness quickly? Perhaps putting the World Cup on during the lunch break and after work would boost productivity instead of hindering it.

What works in your small business is likely to be different to what works in another, but unless you have the data, it hard to make a meaningful decision.

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