Allevity Blog

*Cough* *Cough* How to Handle Your Sick Workers *Cough* *Cough*

Feb 23, 2015

We’ve had our fair share of “outbreaks” recently, with both Ebola and Measles sending people into a panic. But as a company leader with employees to account for, you know these highly publicized outbreaks don’t pose near the same threat to your office productivity as the employee who refuses to stay home when suffering from less severe illnesses. 

It doesn’t take the Measles to threaten taking out your workforce. Even an employee showing up with the flu or a nasty cold could be spreading germs that will inevitably lead to the rest of your workforce dropping like flies. 

They have the best of intentions. These employees who show up, despite the fever and chills, are often trying to show their value – they are trying to show how committed they are. The problem is that studies have shown sick workers are not productive workers, and the risk of illness spreading throughout the office is never worth the mediocre work an ill employee might provide. 

So how do you handle it when you hear an employee wheezing in the back room, only to have them tell you they’re fine and want to stay at work?

Take Preventative Measures

The best way to deal with sick workers is to decide how you are going to deal with them before they get sick. Create policies that make it clear sick workers are expected to stay home. Allow for sick leave, so that employees aren’t feeling as though they have to choose between taking care of themselves or bringing home a paycheck. And nurture a healthy work/life balance where your employees aren’t made to feel as though it is upon their shoulders to always “go the extra mile”. Advocate for wellness, above all else, because healthy employees are productive employees. 

Be the Example

As the boss, you likely always feel as though you have the world on your shoulders. That can make it difficult to stay away from the office, even when you feel awful. But if you come into work sick, your employees will get the impression the same is expected of them. Don’t make that mistake. Take care of yourself, so that they can follow your example. 

Allow for Flexibility

Workers who struggle to stay home when sick are sometimes motivated by the fact that they have no more sick leave available. To mitigate this stress, commit to being flexible when possible. If some work can be done from home, allow for it on a case-by-case basis, and provide opportunities for workers to make up missed hours. 

Realistically, you can’t prevent your employees from getting sick. But you can create an environment that allows for them to take care of themselves when possible, and that sends the message that you value wellness among your workforce. 

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