How to Reduce Sick Leave and Improve Productivity in your Office

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How many days do your employees take off due to sickness each year? In the US, the average worker takes 4.9 days off per year on average,  according to PwC. That means if your business employs 20 people, you could be losing around 98 days of productivity due to sickness each year. What would it be worth to your business if you could reclaim 20, 30, or even 50 of these days back? We’ll take a look at how you can help your staff reduce their time off due to sickness, improving productivity in the process, by looking at four key areas: reducing stress, stopping the spread of germs, improving fitness and promoting healthy eating.

Reduce Stress

These days, stress is  the leading cause of long-term absence from the workplace, beating illnesses such as cancer. Not only is excessive stress a cause for time off work, it can also have a negative effect in the workplace, disengaging employees with their work which results in a loss of productivity, as well as causing  40% of work turnover.

So how can businesses empower their employees to reduce their stress levels in the workplace? The key is to  build a culture that guards against workplace stress. This can be achieved in five key ways:

– Ensure there are open lines of communication between management and staff, so employees feel involved in the running of the organisation
– Consulting with employees before any changes are made that could affect their roles
– Supporting staff after long-term absence with ‘returning to work’ interviews
– Offer anonymous counselling for employees
– Ensuring the management team promote healthy lifestyles themselves by using all holiday allowance, taking lunch breaks and managing their working hours

While some firms may have avoided such schemes in the past, believing that high pressure can improve productivity, the truth is that pressure at work needs to be managed so staff can achieve their full potential in a comfortable working environment.

Promote Good Personal Hygiene
Another way employers can directly influence the number of sick days taken at work is to ensure good personal hygiene is promoted. Each days, millions of germs are picked up through day-to-day activities, which are then passed on as employees interact with one another,  causing the spread of MRSA, impetigo, flu and salmonella.

It’s therefore essential that employees are able to fight infection in the work place. This includes ensuring that bathroom hand sanitizers are readily available and stocked up, as well as providing employees with tissue boxes on their desks so germs can be caught and killed.
It may seem obvious, but it’s also a good idea to prompt employees to practice good hand hygiene with signs in bathrooms such as the one below – a study by Michigan State University showed that  95% of bathroom users failed to wash their hands!

Encourage Employees to Lead Healthy Lifestyles
Promoting healthy lifestyles is also an important way of reducing sick leave, ensuring employees feel energized and motivated to work. A study by Career Builder showed that  44% of office workers had put on weight on the job, showing how important it is to provide employees with incentives to lead a healthy lifestyle.

A great start is  giving your employees access to free health and wellness services, using the corporate discounts which many fitness centres offer to local businesses. You may also want to offer additional incentives to promote regular use of these sports facilities, such as an inter-office sports tournament, group jogging sessions or even an office basketball or softball team. Not only can these schemes improve the health of your employees, they can also be a great way to boost team bonding and camaraderie.

Help Employees Access Healthy Food
Finally, a good diet is essential to boost productivity. The World Health Organisation state that eating the right food can boost the power of the brain by 20%, while research by the Health Enhancement Research organisation shows that those who  eat healthily and exercise perform better at work and take less sick days.

If your workplace has a canteen, then simple changes can be made to help employees improve their diets. For example, replace battered fish with salmon, chips with sweet potatoes, Coca Cola with fruit juices and deserts with side salads.

Smaller businesses may not have the luxury of an on-site canteen, however a solution is to partner with a local catering firm who can visit your office and provide healthy food to your employees. Not only could such a scheme help improve the health of your employees, it may also be possible to get a discount by buying in bulk, offering another great perk for your staff.

Wrapping Up
By making some small changes to your business in the four areas above, you can dramatically improve the wellbeing of your employees, reducing the amount of sick days they take, improving their productivity as a result.

Have you seen positive results from implementing some of these changes? Let us know your tips and experiences in the comments below!