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6 ways to reduce staff sick leave

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The biggest challenge for employers is that sick leave, unlike annual leave, cannot be planned ahead.

Apart from this, sick leave heavily impacts productivity and lowers the morale of other employees – and their managers – who are suddenly lumped with the workload of the sick staff member.

No matter the reason for an employee taking an MC – physical or mental illness, simply needing a rest day or faking an illness just to have a day off – the fact remains you need to do what you can to minimise the number of unexpected staff sick days.

Recruitment company font provided us with this list of tips for how managers can reduce the number of sick leave occurrences.

1. Reduce stress

While a certain level of stress and urgency at the workplace keeps many employees working efficiently, piling on excessive stress easily turns the office into an undesirable place. In a country where 60% of local workers report feeling burned out, this is something bosses need to take note of.

Managers and employers should check in frequently to find out how team members are coping with their workloads, and re-assign tasks as necessary.

2. Talk about health

Introduce ways to help your employees become more health-conscious. Consider sending out weekly health tips, organising in-house exercise sessions or health talks, or providing preventive healthcare initiatives such as flu jabs. Many of these activities can double up as team building and cohesion opportunities as well.

Some companies also offer gym memberships as part of the employment package to encourage staff to sweat it out. Falling into a sedentary lifestyle is easy for the busy professional and a host of ailments follow suit.

3. Understand your team

Don’t let the warning signs go unnoticed. When there’s a spike in employees calling in sick, have a chat to find out the root of the problem. While it might be difficult to have someone admit to feigning illness, asking the right questions can give you an idea of an employee’s sense of stress or job satisfaction.

It takes time to cultivate mutual trust and regular check-ins show team members that you’re invested in their professional development and wellbeing.

4. Incentivise health

Reward employees who have a low sick leave count – this can take the form of gift vouchers, time off from work, health-related incentives such as gym memberships and much more.

There aren’t enough organisations that reward their staff – 80% of employees surveyed in Singapore said their companies do not provide any incentives for a low sick leave rate.

5. Help employees care for elderly family

Caring for elderly family members can be mentally and physically challenging, but many companies don’t allocate leave days for staff to help ease this process.

Eldercare leave is currently being considered by the government, and would work in a similar fashion to childcare leave where employees are allowed time to meet certain family obligations.

6. More annual leave, less sick leave

The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) has dictated employees who have served for six months are entitled to at least 14 paid days of sick leave, but it might be beneficial to consider reducing sick leave and increasing annual leave entitlements.

The reasoning is simple – the global average of annual leave and public entitlement is 28 days, and Singaporeans are severely below the median, with an average of 18 annual leave days and can be entitled to as little as seven days.

By increasing the amount of annual leave, employees will likely use those extra leave days for a break instead of feigning illness, meaning employers can better plan for absent employees.

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