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.
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.
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)?
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.