Sick Days: How to Fill the Ill
Sick days are a vital component of office policy in order to ensure the health of an organization. Of course, sick days can also affect office productivity, since employees are the lifeblood of a business. Here we analyze how each staffing tier’s productivity is affected by illness and management of sick days.
The Employee’s Productivity
Paid sick days are not federally mandated in the United States, meaning an employer can choose whether or not to give its employees paid sick leave. However, currently there are Ten states and Washington D.C. that require paid sick leave. You must have a solid process in place for managing these various mandates nationwide.
When employees are sick and choose to work through their illnesses, as many do, they can lose productivity and put others at risk for illness. Employees may choose to do this due to deadline pressure, fear that no one else can cover for them, and financial needs. When these employees stay in the office, not only does their productivity go down, but so does that of their colleagues.
If an employee does have paid sick days, they may still feel the need to work from home due to the need to get things done. This affects their team and the company because the employee is not focused on recovering from their illness as they should be, therefore they are delaying getting back to the office fully recuperated.
The Team’s Productivity
There’s no denying that when one person on the team is sick, the rest of the team can feel the pinch. This effect varies based on your staffing situation and the team’s workload, but the best way to prepare for this is to have open communication between team members about deadlines and goals so that if someone does fall ill, clients and tasks aren’t left hanging. Having team members who can cover for one another is the best solution and helps promote a team mentality on projects. Though shift or work coverage is the best way to address a co-worker’s illness, it doesn’t mean that co-workers aren’t immune to the effects. According to the Society for Human Resource Management, co-workers are percieved to be 29.5 percent less productive when covering for an absent employee. Though this is a necessary evil sometimes, co-workers can protect themselves by limiting overwork and asking for extra assistance.
Illness at the office can also leave other team members vulnerable, especially if they work in close quarters. One way to combat this is to promote healthy habits on the team such as getting enough sleep, hand washing, and letting the sick person go home in order to protect the rest of the team’s health if it’s needed.
The Office’s Productivity
Sick days can affect an entire office’s productivity in many ways. As a whole, when too many people in an office take sick days at once, it impacts the company’s productivity. This can lead to sick leave abuse or on smaller staff sizes, a shortage of vital employees. According to a report from the Integrated Benefits Institute, productivity lost due to illness costs U.S. companies $530 billion per year. To combat this, companies can promote healthy staff members and work culture through fitness programs, providing proper work/life balance, and ensuring the office is sanitized and clean. When an office is productive, so is the company.
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