Taking the sting out of sick leave

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Coughs, colds and chills always boost the amount of sick leave taken during the bleak winter months – making it crucial to effectively manage sickness absence.

However, research firm TNS Conversa has estimated that the cost of illness to New Zealand employers is likely to be more than $1,500 per employee or over $2bn across the whole workforce.

Along with the direct costs of illness, employers could also suffer indirect costs resulting from things like the effects of sickness absence on other staff and impaired customer service.

Insurer Southern Cross recommends the implementation of comprehensive workplace health and wellness programs – including initiatives like flu vaccinations, workstation assessments and stress support – as the best way to combat the costs of sick leave.

However, global business solutions provider The Sage Group also recently issued its top 10 tips for HR practitioners aiming to best manage sickness absence. They are:

  1. Devise a clear policy & communicate it
  2. Record & measure absence rates
  3. Minimise work-related illness
  4. Make procedures easy to comply with...
  5. ... And difficult to cheat
  6. Reward people for being present & correct
  7. Invoke peer pressure
  8. Conduct return-to-work interviews
  9. Manage long-term sickness carefully
  10. Automate the process


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