If you’re an employer or a manager then work place absence is costing you money, inconvenience, and upsetting your customers. As we all know, not all days taken off work are due to genuine sickness. Many employees take sick leave because their morale is low, and they just don’t like or can’t do their work.
The challenge for employers and managers is to make people happier at work. If people are happy at work then they are less likely to take a day off every time they wake up with a stuffy nose. Some bosses think that paying more money or improving job security or working conditions is the answer. Unfortunately, it isn’t, and it’s also something that can be very hard to achieve.
People who employ or supervise other people need to become more attuned to their employees’ emotional needs and find out what really motivates them. While this is much easier to achieve than paying more money or improving job security, there’s also no quick fix.
To reduce the amount of absence there are three steps you need to consider.
- Firstly, pick the right person for the job. You need to get better at interviewing and selecting people. Take more time, and pay more attention to the applicant’s human side rather than their qualifications or experience. Get to know them better. Find out what makes them happy, how well they get on with other people and how much energy and enthusiasm they have. Make sure they know what they’re getting into and be sure the job suits them.
- Secondly, you need to believe in your people. If you’ve interviewed well and picked the right person for the job, you need to trust them to do that job. You need to constantly demonstrate to your people that you trust and believe in them by what you say, your tone of voice and your body language. If you believe that your people are not to be trusted, that they’re unable to make a decision without checking with you, or that they’ll turn up late and go home early, then that’s exactly what they’ll do. If on the other hand you believe that they’ll do their job well, that they can be trusted to make decisions, and they’ll give you a fair day’s work, then it’s more likely this is what you’ll get. As with all theories there is no guarantee that it will work every time but the majority of employees are reasonable people. If you treat them as such, they’re more likely to behave in a positive manner.
- The third (and probably the most important) thing is to give them feedback and coach them. Many managers are uncomfortable telling staff how they feel about their work performance. Most employees want to know how they are performing in their job; they want to know if they’re doing it right or how they could do it better. If you really want to motivate your people then you need to give them feedback on what they’re doing well and what needs improvement. When you notice an employee doing something you do like, tell them about it. When you notice something you don’t like, tell them about it. Employees will feel happier if they perceive their employer or manager as a reasonable and fair individual – someone who is quick to praise but also says when they’re not happy about something.
The bottom line is: if you want motivated staff, make their work interesting, give them feedback and give them the feeling that they’re involved in the business.
We can make the job more interesting by giving people more responsibility, assigning projects and by training and developing them. We need to regularly give people feedback on how they’re doing, focusing on what they’re doing well rather than on what’s not so great. To meet their need to feel involved, we should regularly communicate both formally and informally. We could also involve staff in meetings they might not normally attend.
These steps will take time and thought but they’ll make a huge difference as to how employees feel about their work. If they feel good and gain satisfaction from their work, they’re less likely to find a reason to take a sick day.