Below is an article we received from HumanaCare, a Canadian provider of Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs). In it, they briefly outline nine ways for businesses to minimize the effects of disease outbreaks or other causes of employee absenteeism:
Recent concerns with the H1N1 virus have lead employers to come up with new solutions to ensure business as usual, even when many employees may be home sick. Smaller businesses cannot afford to pay employees who are home sick and also cannot afford the risk of having infected individuals at work. This article is intended to help identify what you can do ease the distress across the board.
The Buddy System
Assign each employee a buddy to learn the other’s essential duties and take responsibility of essential business tasks if their partner should fall ill.
Wherever possible, allow sick employees to take work home with them and complete essential tasks without infecting other workers. Assign alternative tasks that can be accomplished at home.
Allow employees to bank time to provide a cushion should they be off work due to illness. Allow employees to work overtime to make up the time they missed.
Ensure employees are aware of who they need to contact if they are ill, how often they are required to check in and when they will require a sick note.
Prioritize Work Tasks
Define which tasks can wait should the workload increase for healthy workers. Is it possible to let a few nonessential maintenance tasks wait and redirect that manpower?
Encourage Open Communication
Explain to employees that you appreciate any and all information they can give you while they are away from work. They are not required to disclose their health information, however in a comfortable and supportive environment many employees do not mind communicating with their employers. This will help you to anticipate their return and make appropriate plans.
It is important to ensure employees take the most appropriate time off work. Coming back too quickly can have negative effects by infecting others or lengthening the recovery time. However, no employer wants an employee to be off work when they are well. Employee Assistance Programs can provide illness management and disability management programs to monitor employee health, ensure proper treatment and plan an appropriate return to work.
Rewarding Healthy Employees
Show appreciation to employees who stay healthy and shoulder the burden while their coworkers are away. Employee Assistance Programs may offer “concierge” services to help employees take care of personal tasks so they can focus on work.
Happy employees are three time less likely to fall ill. Employee Assistance Programs help employees focus on their health and well being and become more effective at work.
Contact us if you have any questions!