Tis the Season for Sickness! Are You Prepared?

Statistics show that December marks the peak period for staff absence, meaning that the final weeks before Christmas are often the hardest of the year at what is already a busy time for most care homes. Pre-Christmas socialising leads to coughs and colds spreading rapidly and an increase in stomach upsets and alcohol-related absence. The short dark days can also create difficulties for people with depression whilst for others, the stress of Christmas means that they’re simply more vulnerable to feeling unwell during the festive season.

Effective absence management is essential to minimise disruption to staff at any time but particularly in the run up to Christmas. Ensuring that staff receive the support they need, that absences are investigated and that clear expectations are set in relation to attendance will all help to ensure staffing disruption is minimised this year.

Read on to learn more about effective absence management and ensure your home has a happy Christmas this year!

Poor absence management, including a failure to investigate periods of absence or to support staff on their return to work can lead to attendance levels worsening and, in some cases, staff leaving altogether.

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) reports the 5 leading causes of short-term absence to be minor illness, stress, musculoskeletal injuries, home/family/carer responsibilities, and mental health problems. Although some of these causes are unavoidable, early and effective absence management and support can still help to reduce absence levels and minimise the adverse effects on your service.

4 Steps to Improving Staff Attendance this Christmas 

  1. Immediate return to work interviews: Widely regarded as the most effective method of managing absence, 79% of companies report that they use return to work interviews as a means of successfully managing absence. Interviews should take place promptly, identify the reasons for absence, aim to put in place preventative measures and also act as a deterrent to future avoidable absences.
  2. Set clear attendance standards: Setting clearly understood thresholds at which attendance reviews are carried out can be helpful in improving attendance levels. Aim to increase awareness of your agreed thresholds during supervision sessions and staff meetings and consider giving advance warning to staff if they are in danger of breaching them.
  3. Share absence information with line managers: Sharing information with line managers helps to encourage a team approach and allows them to assist you in monitoring and supporting staff who may have issues that could lead to absence if not well managed. Line managers are likely to be closest to any absentees and are often most able to offer support or even spot particular absence patterns.
  4. Use disciplinary procedures: In cases of persistent absence, the use of disciplinary procedures to address unacceptable absence may be necessary. Although in most cases, this would not be required, taking a disciplinary approach sends out a clear message about the importance of acceptable attendance levels and helps address persistent offenders.

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