A happy employee is worth two

Published on 26/04/2016 in Inspire

A happy employee is worth two

Long-term absenteeism reached an all-time record last year among both manual workers and office staff, according to figures from HR service provider SD Worx. What is the reason for this striking increase? And, far more importantly, how can you, as an employer, counter this negative trend?

Many studies point to ever-increasing demands as the villain behind this rise in absenteeism. Added to that, whether technical, creative or commercial, our jobs are becoming more and more complex. Our current work organization is often not properly adapted to the new content and requirements. Fortunately you, as an employer, can make a difference here too. 

How satisfied are your employees?

Did you know that employees whose jobs are not very motivating are absent on average 2.4 times more than colleagues with interesting occupations? Greater autonomy, a good atmosphere among colleagues and enough opportunities for self-improvement lead to a more positive job evaluation. 
Performance interviews can reveal how absorbing staff find their tasks. But be aware that the vast majority of your staff will say that they are satisfied with the work they do. So you will have to dig deeper. A personal chat at the water fountain can work wonders. Not only does it make the employee feel more involved with the company, but it also gives you a chance to better assess his/her personal situation, stress level and skills.

Mens sana in corporatie sano

By creating a safe and healthy workplace, you can drastically reduce absenteeism among your staff. A few possibilities include replacing the snack dispenser with a fruit basket, holding meetings standing up and actively encouraging staff to cycle to and from work. But you could also hand out pedometers and record who takes the most steps, organize friendly sports competitions among colleagues or arrange workshops on giving up smoking. What's more, actions like these will improve the working atmosphere and employees will be less likely to call in sick. 

He doesn't work anywhere like he works at home

Finally, more and more employers are offering their staff the chance to work from home a couple of days a week. So they spend less time in traffic and can organize their family lives better. Employees feel more independent and better appreciated, and that is reflected in their productivity. For instance, according to Dutch figures homeworkers are off sick 0.5 per cent less of the total number of working days than employees who never work at home. But it is important to make the working conditions at home as pleasant as possible, too. Think for instance of an ergonomic chair, a laptop and permanent access to all documents and schedules in the cloud. Things like this often don't cost much yet yield a lot in terms of productivity. 

What can you do? 

Ask how things are going
Many of the causes of absenteeism can be avoided at an early stage by regularly asking how things are going. Be sincere and do it in private. That way, you'll eliminate the fear of consequences.

Take away the fear
Employees won't be quick to talk about worries or stress due to private problems. They often underestimate these themselves. Set up your team so that everyone has someone to confide in.

Ensure constructive dialogue
Talk about the cause of the impending absence between the two of you. Is the cause related to you personally? Then make sure a neutral third party is present and show that you'll take your responsibility, too.

Win-win remuneration policy
After a positive performance interview, think about alternative additional remuneration that brings tax benefits for you, as well. An internet subscription at home, for instance. This extra service will motivate your staff. 

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