If you look at things from an employer’s perspective, you would think to reduce paid sick days as much as possible in an effort to combat absenteeism in the workplace.
If you look at things from an employee’s perspective, you would think that there should be nearly unlimited paid sick days, so the employee can feel comfortable only showing up when they are at 100% health.
The trick is finding a comfortable middle ground.
There are problems with either extremes. Consider the problems faced by a company with a tight sick leave policy that has too few paid sick days:
- The Sick Worker Problem – This one is obvious. If your workers are losing money by staying home when they are sick, then more of them will come to work sick. Not only is a sick worker less productive, but this worker’s ability to get better is reduced. This means they will spend more time being sick, which is not optimum for you. You are paying for more days of “sick work.” It’s better to let your workers get back to their health so you can get your money’s worth. A strict but fair absence management policy is better for employee and employer.
- A Sick Worker Becomes Sick Workers – This one is even more obvious. If someone comes into work sick because of your tight sick leave policy, then this worker will likely infect other workers. Germs spread, and they don’t have sympathy for your company. Keep bacteria out of your operation.
- Lack of Trust – Understanding your employees’ situations and needs is central to building long-lasting trust. If your employees are under the impression that they don’t have the necessary wiggle room to live and work comfortably, then they will begin to distrust your company. A lack of trust breeds a host of other issues, but most notably it lowers worker productivity.
Now let’s consider a company with the opposite problem. This company has a too loose of a sick leave policy with far too many paid sick days:
- Where Did All My Workers Go? – Although not as daunting as you think, if you give your employees too much slack then you may regret it. If there are too many sick days, all of a sudden you will find the flu haunts your office on a weekly basis. If your sick leave policy is too loose, then people will take advantage of it.
- Lower Requirements – Maybe you’re not contagious, you’re just having an “off day.” Should you take off? If your company’s rules are too relaxed, the answer will be an overwhelming yes every time. The “Mondays” will prove to be more fatal than previously assumed. Christmas breaks will be extended due to overconsumption. You want your employees only to take off if it is in their interest as well as their peers. Lowering the requirements puts the ball too much into the employee’s court.
- They Will Take You for a Fool – Your entire attitude towards your employees is important. If they get the feeling that you are a pushover, they will push. If they think you are too hard, maybe they pull away too far. If your sick leave rules are too easy to take advantage of, then your employees will consider that as a fault in your character. If you don’t mind when your employees take off extra days, what’s to say they don’t take home some basic company equipment or spend excess time on Facebook when they should be working.
You have to find that perfect middle ground.
Employee absenteeism can destroy your company. One of the best ways to combat this is with an effective policy designed to optimise paid sick days. If you get it right, your policy for sick leave will bring your company optimum results.
When You Get It Right
When you figure out the perfect policy to handle your paid sick days, your company will find motivation in more than one direction:
- Healthy Workers – No one in the office is sick. They have enough sick days to the point where they can afford to use them when they need them. This means your workers only come in when they are perfectly healthy so no one gets sick.
- Lower Absenteeism – The magic formula is usually somewhere a little above what the employee actually needs. Allowing them to use their sick days as personal days gives them further motivation. They won’t want to waste their sick days, but they will have enough of them to use a sick day when needed.
Since your employees won’t want to waste these, they will come into work as much as possible. The reason is because your employees want to add on to their vacation days. They want to add a day or two to already existing holidays for longer trips. This desire is greater than the desire to play hooky on a random rainy day.
- More Trust – You have found the right formula. You have given your employees wiggle room. They don’t feel cornered, they feel trusted. When your employees feel trusted, they trust you. Setting this formula into your attendance policies will give you great comfort.