SME Owners: Are You Looking After Your Staff?

April was annual Stress Awareness Month, so as we move into May it offers time to reflect on what you’re doing to keep your staff happy and healthy.

Absenteeism and presenteeism: bad for employers and employees

Digital insurance broker PolicyBee’s survey found that more than a third of respondents had pulled a sickie although they weren’t actually unwell. It’s something that’s more common when staff feel undervalued or demotivated. According to the report, nearly a quarter had taken a sick day due to stress.

PolicyBee marketing head Dominique Fell-Clark pointed out that absenteeism doesn’t only cost businesses money and productivity, it also puts pressure on other staff. However, while absenteeism is costly for you, and a worrying sign that all’s not well with your staff, presenteeism is a growing problem too.

In 2018 the Chartered Institute of Personnel Development (CIPD) and Simply Health published a Health and Wellbeing at Work survey. It revealed that the number of people coming into work when they’re ill has more than tripled since 2010. It’s led to the term presenteeism, describing employees who are physically and mentally well, but unengaged in the workplace. Sadly, employees who turn up to work because they feel they must, despite being unable or unmotivated to do their job properly, can cost your business dearly too.

Look after your staff and they’ll look after you

PolicyBee’s survey also found that only 50% of those polled were offered benefits like health insurance, mental health support, and duvet days. Yet, 73% believe an employee benefits package would make them happier at work. 94% think a good benefits package makes a prospective employer a more attractive proposition.

“Our research has shown a significant number of people have taken sick days because of stress,” said PolicyBee marketing head Dominique Fell-Clark.

“This can be caused by many factors and it’s often hard to tell if an employee is feeling overwhelmed.

“From an employer’s point of view, it should be identified and addressed as soon as possible, so regular one-to-ones are important.”

Staff who feel under pressure to turn up to work when they have a contagious illness stand a good chance of spreading their germs to others, too, leading to a round-robin of colds, flu or stomach bugs.

It’s useful for bosses to consider what it is that they offer, and the expectations they set. Being approachable, and signposting support can contribute massively to overall employee experience.

“The more you make your employees feel valued, the more invested they are in the success of the organisation,” Ms Clark points out.