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7 Steps To Reducing Employee Sick Leave

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There’s really no way of completely avoiding germs – they’re everywhere, year-round. Alas, this means your employees are just as likely to fall ill in balmy summer months as they are in the bleak midwinter. Fortunately, conscientious employers out there can do their bit to help by implementing strategies to boost employee health and fitness, thereby heading off any pesky illnesses at the pass. Here’s what you as an employer should do to cut down on employee sickness…

Light & Green

As unlikely as it may sound, introducing more greenery around the workplace can have a positive effect on employee mood, productivity, and health. Sourcing office plants can be cheaply and easily done and will certainly brighten up the workplace – plus, studies have demonstrated that proximity to nature increases alertness and well-being. Likewise, exposure to natural sunlight has equally positive effects, so an office layout that allows for lots of natural light is beneficial, too.  It’s really the little things that make a difference.

Healthy Snacks

Office vending machines tend to offer easy access to fizzy drinks and sugar-laden sweets, the consumption of which results in sugar bursts that eventually leave employees tired and possibly moody. Try to offer healthy alternatives like fresh fruit, peanuts, and suchlike – whether in your company cafeteria or simply in the kitchen or break rooms.

Provide Health Incentives

If your employees bike to work, offer them incentives in the form of subsidies or through the provision of secure bike parking and other useful facilities. You could even take this a step further and encourage energy-saving practices like carpooling, using public transport, or walking to work.

Encourage Exercise

If your company doesn’t already have gym facilities, why not strike up a deal with nearby gyms and negotiate discounts for employees who choose to work out there? People are more likely to head to a gym that’s close by their work or home, since it makes travelling easier. A quick workout in the morning leaves employees energised and ready to tackle the tasks ahead, and even if they go after work an overall increase in health reduces the likelihood of falling ill.

Stay Clean

Encourage employees to wash their hands, dispose of used tissues, and be as hygienic as possible in using bathroom and kitchen facilities. In a place where many people spend all day indoors together, breathing the same air, drinking out of the same mugs and touching the same door handles, germs can spread super fast. The cost of employee sick leave is a major expense for businesses, so forking out for better cleaning services can save you money overall.

Options For Sick Leave

Ensure that in the event your employees do fall ill, they’re aware of what they’re entitled to in terms of sick pay and leave. This isn’t possible in all industries, but to prevent employees from coming into work even when they’re sick and could infect co-workers, you could come up with a system that, for example, allows employees to work from home for reduced pay while they’re still contagious but able to remain at least somewhat productive. That way, any urgent work can still get done on time without the expense of other employees’ health.

Step In

If an employee is stressed, struggling to stay on top of things, and constantly working long hours, it may be necessary to take him or her aside and talk through things. This is especially true when it comes to new hires or recent in-house promotions, who may be finding it difficult to adjust. If possible, help them come up with solutions to manage their work more effectively, remind them of the relevant people they can ask for help, and if they’ve been unfairly loaded down with work, try and redistribute assignments so that the work isn’t getting done at the detriment of one person’s health. It’s not always possible to keep an eye on these things, but generally taking the time to check up on employees can mean that stressful situations are easily and efficiently sorted out. Oh, and did I mention stress increases your chances of falling ill?

Got any other tips for reducing ill-health in the workplace? Share them in the comments!

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James Duval is the business and tech editor at GKBCInc.

 

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Prevent Sickness and Injury in the Workplace

workplace injuries 2-resized-600When the seasons change,  organizations take a hit with employees calling in sick left and right. It’s easy to catch a bug when working around large groups of people. Depending on the building’s layout, ventilation system and tidiness, there are many variables which contribute to everyone’s health.

According to the Center of Disease Control and Prevention, the flu epidemic is unpredictable but tends to show its face and effect in the fall. When the weather starts becoming colder, people start spending more time indoors. People in close working environments tend to eat lunch at their desk and take less breaks, hoping to avoid the chilly weather outside.   Some  say the best solution is to simply ‘take more breaks & do less work’.  This approach is not the solution that most employers were looking for but, it may actually have some merit.

To work to maintain productivity and healthy workers, here are some tips to prevent catching the flu or any other illness in the workplace.

  1. 1.     Vaccination.
    When it comes to the flu, getting vaccinated is generally seen as the most effective precaution one can take. The flu has been evolving and changes from one year to the next. It is important to get the vaccine every 12 months to protect yourself from the most recent form of the flu. Most workplaces have free vaccination organized for the employees. The more people who are vaccinated, the less likely the flu will spread.
  2. 2.     Stress
    Another way to prevent illness is creating  an active and stress free environment at work. Offices that involve regular physical activity increases the immune system and decreases stress. Moderate physical activity for at least 20 minutes a day or intense activity for 30 minutes a day can make a big difference. Having positive relationships with coworkers also decreases stress. Outside variables such as cigarette smoking, poor diet and lack of exercise also affect a person’s stress level and general well-being.

The Cost of the Flu on Business
Sick leave is a financial issue that every organization has to deal with. It is extremely costly to pay for employee who take the sick leave. The flu alone costs businesses $10.4 billion in costs. Even employees don’t want to take the sick leave as a recent study conducted in Australia shows that on average, 88% of employees who attend work whilst sick are less productive.

Work and Injury

Work-related injuries are common and a threat, whether you work in an office or on a building site. In Western Australia alone, roughly 68,500 people experience a workplace injury in the past year. Interestingly enough, most injured workers are men. Workplace health and safety programs are common among all businesses to prevent these injuries from occurring. These programs remind employees of hazards and ways to prevent illness and injury. Keeping office exits and nearby traffic zones clear decreases the chance of a future workplace injury from occurring. These guidelines should be implemented into a workplace health and safety program.

One of the most effective ways to prevent illness and injury in the workplace is forming  a clean and organized environment. A clean office place can also give a professional image that serves its occupants.  Organizing clutter at workstations can create a more productive environment. In reverse, lack of dusting can lead to airborne dust and in return,  ignites allergy symptoms in workers.

To maintain cleanliness and in extension a healthy environment, professional movers can be brought in to move or take away large, heavy objects like furniture or boxes. Having surface cleaners at hand motivates employees to clean up after spills and crumbs. Common areas are hot spots for germs and can easily be safe by cleaning regularly. In some instances, it is best to leave these large and detailed jobs in the hands of professional cleaners.

Sharon Freeman is a professional freelancer who writes and about cleaning services and reviews companies such as http://cleangroup.com.au/

 

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Getting the Value From Your Umbrella Company

 

Let’s face it, no-one likes dealing with the Inland Revenue. It’s especially the case for  contractors and freelancers, who are also subject to the dreaded IR35 tax rules. You could always run your own limited company in order to get around it, but that’s a lot of hard work. Fortunately, there is actually a way around this, and it comes in the form of umbrella companies. You can sign up with an umbrella company and they will act as an intermediary, which means you still get your money but you’re no longer subject to IR35.

How it works

You sign up as an employee of the umbrella company, and they sign a contract on your behalf with the end client – after you’ve agreed to the terms of the contract. You then submit your expenses and time sheets to the umbrella company, who invoice the client. They’ll even sort out your tax and national insurance contributions. You pay only when you’re working and you can end the contract at any time with one week’s notice. When your contract with the end client ends, you can either continue with the umbrella company for free or they’ll send you your P45.

Benefits

As well as sorting out all your tax headaches, umbrella companies come with other benefits as well – in fact, most of the benefits of being someone else’s employee, while still working for yourself. They’ll do health insurance, income insurance, mortgages and even pensions. They’ll also cover various liabilities – which they won’t charge you for. Fantastic! I hear you cry. But what if I fall ill?

Sickness and holiday pay

Umbrella companies will retain a small percentage of your monthly pay to create a fund for holiday and sickness pay. And, if you don’t claim any of it, they’ll pay you the whole fund as a lump sum at the end of your contract.

Fees

Ah, but what are the start-up fees? Well, depending on the service you chose, there might not be any. Okay, you ask, but what about the umbrella company’s fees? Of course they have to make their money somehow. Does 3% sound good? I can still hear you hesitating. Fine. How about if the company capped their costs to you at £25 per payroll? Oh, and they have two payrolls a week, so if you miss one you can catch the other.

More reasons

Okay, you can submit all your expenses online, you get a Personal Account Manager to help with your queries, and they will answer all emails within four hours if sent between business hours. All invoices are sent to the end client by email to avoid delays. They will even provide reference letters for financial institutions for you.

Contracting in the UK is supposed to be about having the freedom to work for yourself, so why spend hours on tax that you could be spending working (or relaxing, for that matter…)? Why would you subject yourself to IR35 when you don’t have to? If you pick the right umbrella company, you can kill two birds with one stone and get a whole load of benefits to boot.

I don’t know why you’re still reading.

David webster is a trainee accountant who has been interested since he was bought some shares as a kid. He now follows all things financial and trades forex for fun.

 

 

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Calling in Sick? Make Sure You Have a Good Excuse.

We’ve all done it before – called in sick when all we really wanted was an extra day off to lounge on the couch or hit up the mall. Most people in this situation simply tell their boss they’re sick and can’t make it into the office, but you might be surprised at the excuses some people come up with for missing work.

CareerBuilder’s Annual Survey, released at the end of 2011, revealed some of the most unusual excuses employees gave for missing work. And these aren’t your run-of-the-mill “my car broke down and I can’t get another ride” excuses – they’re much more creative.

The top 15 unusual excuses for calling in sick include:

  1. My 12-year-old daughter stole my car and I have no other way to get to work.
  2. Bats got in my hair.
  3. A refrigerator fell on me.
  4. A truck accidentally dumped flour into my convertible while backing up.
  5. A deer bit me while hunting.
  6. I ate too much at a party.
  7. I fell out of bed and broke my nose.
  8. I got a cold from my new puppy.
  9. My child stuck a mint up his nose and had to visit the emergency room.
  10. I hurt my back chasing a beaver.
  11. I got my toe caught in a vent cover.
  12. I got a headache from visiting too many garage sales.
  13. My brother-in-law was kidnapped by the Mexican drug cartel.
  14. I drank anti-freeze by mistake and had to go to the hospital.
  15. A bucket filled with water fell through the roof of a bowling alley and hit me in the head.

The moral of this story? Make sure you have a real reason for calling in sick, or simply be honest and tell your boss that you need an extra day off. Otherwise you might find yourself in danger of being caught.

In fact, the survey found that 15 percent of employers have fired a worker for calling in sick without a legit reason, and another 28 percent have checked up on an employee by:

  • Requiring a doctor’s note (69 percent)
  • Calling the employee (52 percent)
  • Asking another employee to call the worker (19 percent)
  • Driving by the employee’s house (16 percent)

The survey further found that employees are most likely to call in sick between January and March, and that 29 percent of workers admitted to playing hookey, mostly to run errands or do things with family and friends.

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Writer and content creator specializing in everything from recruiting and job searching to social media and technology. Check out PCRecruiter.net for more.

 

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Healthy Staff Investment Aids Business Growth

After many years of experience working within corporate America, I have seen how businesses that invest in the health of employees flourish more than those that make little effort to do so.

Business Losses

Aside from the humanitarian aspects, I have personally experienced and witnessed that unhealthy employees cost a company far more than healthy ones do. It has been estimated that unhealthy staff costs billions of dollars each year for businesses, related to:

– Costly temporary staff replacements;

– Backlogged work;

– Ineffective workflows that create business disruptions;

– Increased heath care premium costs; and

– General lower productivity.

Lessening Stress Promotes Healthy Staff

I also noticed that as a healthy worker, I was far more productive than when I was ill. Nearly every sickness I ever had was related in some way to the often needless stress from:

– Lack of organization;

– Unrealistic workloads;

– Being continually exposed to employees who were sick.

Doctors have recognized how stress plays a large factor in illness. Stressed out, overworked staff will spend more time at the doctor’s office which drive up health care costs. Additionally, unhealthy workers greatly contribute to business disruptions.

European Human Resources Philosophy

Many European businesses have been way ahead of the U.S. when it comes to the overall treatment of their employees. For example, when I worked with a bank that was based in Amsterdam, I was shocked to learn of the various health-related perks:

– 100% paid health care plan;

– Fully paid gym memberships;

– Three weeks of paid time off for vacation immediately;

– Unlimited, paid sick time;

– Doctor visits counted as paid sick time;

– Twelve days of personal time;

– Every major holiday off;

– Extra bank and European holidays; and

– Bonuses paid in cash or time off.

I had thought that allowing employees to take unlimited sick time would encourage abusing this privilege. In reality, nothing could be further from the truth. Because I knew that I would be covered financially should I become ill, I found that I almost never needed to take a sick day off. Of course, part of the reason that I stayed so healthy was probably due also to:

– Realistic workloads;

– Positive, thoughtful work environments;

– Communicative management; and

– Less chance of contracting an illness, since people stayed home when they were ill.

Rarely did anyone in the office need more than a few hours to a day or two. Usually, “sick time” was used to go to the regular check-ups that the company also encouraged that each employee take advantage of, through its fully paid, no-co pay health plan.

What’s more, I was never made to feel badly about visiting the doctor or staying home if necessary. Rather, I was encouraged to do so. This company understood that having sick employees in the office was not good for business. Illnesses are spread and there is nothing productive about insisting that employees who are sick come to work. For this reason, I now choose workplaces not entirely by compensation, but by the culture of overall health that they adopt.

This author writes articles advising business owners to invest more in their employees and also reads medical alert systems reviews.

 

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