As we head into cold and flu season, we’re probably all aware of absenteeism, and the problems it can cause. When employees miss work, others have to cover for them (often with very little notice). As a result of workers taking on unfamiliar duties, tasks can take longer to complete. You may find yourself incurring unexpected overtime. Customers service can be affected. It’s a real problem.
But it turns out, the opposite situation can present an even bigger problem!
“Presenteeism” — A Hidden Danger To Your Business
Your most dedicated employees are just as aware as you are of the issues that absenteeism can cause. Because of their loyalty and dedication to their work, they might consider coming to work despite being sick. They may even feel a bit proud of themselves for “sucking it up” and coming in even while under the weather.
You might be tempted to praise them, or hold them up to others as a good example of someone who “takes their responsibilities seriously.”
This trend — of coming in to work while sick — is sometimes referred to as “presenteeism.” And it can represent an even bigger danger to your business than absenteeism!
Sharing Is (Not Necessarily) Caring
First, an employee who comes to work sick risks spreading their “bug” to co-workers and perhaps even customers. This can be a particular problem in high-risk settings, such as hospitals, nursing homes, day care centers, catering businesses, and restaurants, but it can present issues in any work environment. You certainly don’t want your business to be responsible for making large numbers of your customers sick!
Consider: would you rather one key employee take a few days off when they’re sick — or would you rather have everyone in the office, including you, come down with the flu (or worse) as well, because that one employee decided to come in to work sick?
(Not) At Peak Efficiency
Second, when someone is sick, they cannot perform at peak efficiency. Someone working sick is liable to make more mistakes, take longer to complete tasks, and overlook important information. You will not necessarily gain anything by having the sick “subject matter expert” working, versus a less-experienced substitute.
So, What Can You Do?
- Identify all the employees who have the skills to manage each critical business function (including suitable backup employees),
- Ensure adequate crosstraining opportunities for primary and backup employees (and document they’ve taken advantage of the opportunities), and
- Easily adjust schedules to accommodate last-minute changes with as little disruption as possible.
And much more!
Don’t let your business (or your business’s customers) suffer when employees come in sick! Identify backup employees, crosstrain them, and have in place an application such as AcroTime Scheduling to help you manage schedules. Your business can sail through cold and flu season without serious issues caused by either absenteeism or “presenteeism.”