4 Ways to Reduce Employee Sick Days

Every time an employee gets sick, the symptoms last for five to six days — and he or she takes anywhere from four to 40 hours off work, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. With the 2012-2013 cold and flu season under way (and here to stay until May), it’s in your best interest to promote good health at your workplace.

Here are four ways to reduce employee sick days and boost productivity:

1. Promote the benefits of prevention. You can’t force employees to get seasonal flu shots or take steps to prevent illness, but you can increase the likelihood that they will stay healthy through education and accessibility. The CDC offers downloadable signs you can post around the office to stress the importance of good hygiene: For example, remind employees to wash hands for at least 15 seconds to reduce germ transmission by more than 50 percent.

Offer employees time off at the start or end of the workday to get themselves and family members vaccinated. The CDC recommends getting the flu shot as early in the season as possible for maximum effect. Communicate urgency by setting a vaccination deadline for employees and holding a cash prize drawing for those who comply.

2. Discourage sick employees from coming to work. You may fear that staff will “play sick” if you encourage working remotely while ill, but consider the cost of making employees feel as if they have no choice but to report to work sick. A 2010 study published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine found that “presenteeism” (sick employees coming to work) costs employers as much as three times the dollar amount as absenteeism in terms of lost productivity.

Enable remote work by providing employees with the tools and information they need to access email and office servers before they get sick. Make it part of your company culture not to come into work if you’ll risk your own health or that of others.

3. Provide germ-fighting resources. Keep hand sanitizers, tissues, paper towels, garbage cans, and filtered drinking water with clean cups readily available. Favor individually wrapped snack items over community candy jars, platters, and snack bins, to reduce the spread of germs.

Stock the break room with natural immunity builders, such as citrus fruits, fresh veggies, organic raw almonds and honey, and green tea. You can even supply multivitamins and supplements like echinacea and zinc (shown to build immunity in some studies) to encourage preventative health.

4. Allow exercise. Being sedentary, stressed, and trapped indoors fuels illness. Research published by the British Journal of Sports Medicine reveals that active people are about half as likely to catch a cold as non-exercisers.

Offer flexible work hours and encourage employees to go outdoors, even in the winter, to exercise and reap the health benefits of fresh air and natural light — provided they get their jobs done. Organize “intramural style” basketball leagues, indoor soccer, or running clubs that encourage teamwork, wellness, and stress relief.

About Stephanie Taylor Christensen

Stephanie Taylor Christensen holds a master’s degree in marketing and has 13 years of marketing management experience for Fortune 500 companies and small businesses. She is a regular contributor to sites like ForbesWoman, Real Simple, Mint, Minyanville, and SheKnows, and writes for several private business clients. Her work is frequently syndicated and sourced by Yahoo! Finance, SFGate, TodayShow.com, and The New York Times. She is also a small business owner, having founded WellnessOnLess.com, and Om for Mom Prenatal Yoga in Columbus, Ohio. Connect with her on Twitter @WellnessOnLess.
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Insightful article. You could find similar articles on unn.edu.ng or portal.unn.edu.ng


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Janet Mahan
Janet Mahan

@piajmahan- Stop the sick employee from coming too work 1st . Keep Natural Health remedies for your employess.  I agree with tai that your employer contributes to reducing sick days & works to help create an environment of appreciation and reognition.  When people are happy to go work  and feel good. It's all good. Janet


Thank you Stephanie for these very practical, down to earth recommendations. My experience also confirms that another component that contributes to reducing employee sick days is where the employer works to create an employee environment conducive to appreciation and recognition. Perhaps a basic observation, but when people feel good coming to work that helps attendance.




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