4 Ways to Prevent Employees Abusing Sick Leave

I fractured my finger last week. Much to my surprise, I was given a doctor’s note for a recommended 8 days sick leave from work. Seeing that I’m still a functional human being, albeit a slightly slower typer, it really escaped me as to why I should be recommended any sick leave at all! This got me thinking that there must be individuals who would take over a week of sick leave for such a minor ailment – something that would be particularly concerning for HR professionals.

The Sick Leave Dilemma

Employees taking sick leave for no reason other than because a doctor’s note tells them that they can, might reflect a workforce that doesn’t enjoy their work and looks for an excuse to be absent. Considering that a recent UBS study reported that Hong Kong has the longest working week in the world, combined with a significantly lower number of paid leave days (17.2 days) than the global average (23 days), this scenario is hardly surprising. However, using sick leave as a way to get a decent amount of rest isn’t ideal as it ultimately reduces morale and productivity within an organisation.

With this in mind, here are some tips to avoid this situation from happening and instead engage your workforce so that they actually want to come to work:

1) Let Your Employees Rest

Ensuring that your employees have adequate time off is essential to prevent stress and burnout. Contrary to the Hong Kong cultural mindset, longer hours do not equate to higher productivity – it is in fact the opposite. A recent Morgan McKinley study found that the majority of people do not feel productive when working overtime. Employees with shorter working hours are in fact more productive per hour, have fewer illnesses and are more loyal. A top down strategy where senior executives make a point of leaving the office on time is the best approach for encouraging other employees to do the same.

2) Encourage Employees To Use Flexible Hours

Employees who are able to effectively juggle both their work and personal life make for happier and more fulfilled individuals. Plus, appreciating that your employees have lives outside of work makes them feel more valued at the office and less likely to take sick leave.

3) Make The Office A Home Away From Home

If you want your employees to actually want to come to work, the office will need to be an appealing place for them to be. Creating an environment where they can both work and play in the office, such as providing gaming consoles, foosball tables and snacks is a great way to make your employees enjoy and want to be at work.

4) Make The Office A Safe And Positive Place

The mental associations that your employees have with the office are just as important as the physical amenities offered. It’s essential that any toxic employees are dealt with effectively to ensure that employees don’t dread coming into the office to face a troublesome co-worker. People want to be around people they like. Organising social team building events for employees are a great way to build relationships between them and make them feel more like a family.

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