Want to Reduce Staff Sick Days? Follow in the Footsteps of the Dutch

For a small business, a staff member being unwell during a key period of growth can be a huge problem.

Not only will their absence affect your work’s productivity, it can take a toll on their stress levels too.

As a result, job insecurity and anxiety can mean staff often don’t take the full amount of time they should when recovering from an illness. In turn, this can cause more sick days and reduce productivity levels for your company.

If you want to cut down on the amount of days your employees take as sick leave, you need to start thinking about the environment they work in for 40 hours a week.

Dutch ‘healing offices’

The Guardian reported last year on how Dutch companies are paving the way to a healthier workforce with the creation of “healing offices”.

The Edge is a tower in the business district of Amsterdam, designed with the focus of boosting staff health and happiness.

Considering that £2.6bn is lost each year to absence and lack of productivity in the Netherlands alone (according to insurance company Zilveren Kruis) it makes sense that this is top priority for Dutch companies.

The designers of the building’s interior, Amsterdam-based D/Dock, created a space that isn’t just open and airy, but one that uses science and technology to create an adjustable environment that best suits everyone.

For example, desks are organised so that each one is flooded with natural light to create a naturally bright environment. Lights then automatically adjust depending on the amount of sunlight, and if there’s no one present they turn off completely.

This environment doesn’t tether employees to one desk, but instead invites them to work wherever suits their needs: if you need time to concentrate you can retreat to a quieter area, while still getting the same amount of light as those in the main area collaborating as a team.

What other measures can reduce sick days?

It’s not just what’s happening inside the office that can have a positive effect on your employees. While making changes to where employees work can have small benefits, its policies and views that change an employee’s health and attitude towards their workplace.

One of the changes that larger companies have been rolling out over the past few years is unlimited holiday pay, with companies such as Virgin, Netflix and Evernote implement it in their employee policies.

This system of trust for each employee allows a level of autonomy that is met with hard work when employees are in the office.

While you may not be ready to start handing out unlimited holiday, there are simple changes you can make to help reduce the number of sick days your staff take.

Firstly, consider allowing flexible working. Flexible working gives employees control over their work routine, which they can then fit to work for them, rather than around company hours.

Along with this independence, you should provide employees with training opportunities in areas they wish to progress in. Support and feedback are also vital parts of employees being content in the workplace.

These factors help employees realise they have a job security and an understanding employer. So, rather than returning to work prematurely and consequently meaning even more sick days are taken, employees will be more likely to take the time off they need to recover.

What’s your opinion on Dutch ‘healing offices’? Leave your comments in the section below!

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