Cough, cough, sneeze… That’s the familiar chorus echoing around many small businesses during the winter months. In fact, a survey shows that the cost of days off from work to the Australian economy is now more than $33 billion per annum. And the average cost of absence is now $340 per a day per person. Ouch!
OH THE PAIN, THE PAIN!
Sick leave can hurt your small business especially if you have a small team. The absence of an employee is felt by everyone. Because staff members are often doing more than one role, they can be integral to the organisation. If someone’s away sick, it can put pressure on the whole team that could already be immune-challenged by the strains of winter.
Then there’s the cost of hiring temporary staff when someone is away for a longer time. That’s certainly an expense that most small businesses could do without.
To help reduce the days that you receive the: “Sorry I can’t come in today” phone call or SMS, you can take a few simple steps to keep your team happy and healthy.
KEEP ‘EM HEALTHY
All in all, it pays to take some measures to keep your staff healthy – particularly through winter.
Here are some things you can do to help reduce sickness-based absenteeism and promote employee health:
- Promote a: “If you’re sick – stay home” culture to reduce risk of cross-infection across your team.
- Recommend your team members get flu shots
- Provide soap, hand sanitisers and tissues
- Remind staff to wash their hands well with some simple engaging signage (see inset)
- Initiate a discussion with the team about hygiene, reminding them that it’s in everyone’s interest to take care not to spread germs
- Be flexible with your work practices. If someone is sick, allow flexible hours, so they minimise their contact with others. If they’re entitled to paid sick leave, consider allowing them to work from home to reduce lost productivity.
- Provide a water fountain to help people stay hydrated through the working day
- Promote good nutrition by providing fruit
A CASE IN POINT
This winter, the facilities staff at the Optus HQ in Macquarie Park placed new signage in the bathrooms that aims to help reduce the incidence of flu.
The small signs combine interesting factual information with easy-to-understand graphics. Positioned either above the washbasins or on the dryers the signs say, “Keep going! It takes at least 20 seconds of thorough washing to get rid of germs on your hands” and “Drying matters! Damp hands spread 1000 times more bacteria than dry hands.”
According to one worker, “It seems to be working. People are spending more time at the basins, using soap, hot water and wiping their hands properly. It’s a good reminder when everyone’s busy.”
Got tips on how to keep your employees healthy? Share it with us over on the Optus Facebook page.