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Flexible working: the answer to Presenteeism?

Presenteeism has reached epidemic proportions as 93 per cent of employees come into work despite being ill, new research by risk insurance group Canada Life has shown.

The survey of more than 1,000 workers revealed that over a third would rather use annual leave to recover because they didn’t want to rack up sick days on their employment record. This has been borne out by Office for National Statistic figures, which show that the average number of sick days fell from 5.6 days in 2007 to 4.1 in 2012, as staff worried about job security and redundancy.

Flexible working
Employers are really missing out here on higher productivity and reduced sickness levels. The key is agility in the workplace. We have so many tools at our disposal to allow staff to work in different ways. Why do many organisations choose not to take advantage of the flexible way forward?
We know that flexible and agile workers have less sickness and other absences than those who are in the office every day. The reasons are not difficult to fathom. If you are not feeling great the thought of the Monday commute can be overwhelmingly depressing, the idea that you could sleep for a few hours and then on your lap top in your PJ’s complete that really tricky report is a win-win all round.  Other benefits include:
  • Other staff are not infected with the latest lurgy
  • The ill employee gets better more quickly
  • The work gets done anyway
  • Less guilt  and more activity all round
In my experience with organisations across a range of sectors the most common concern that gets in the way is worry that middle managers will not feel confident managing staff that they do not have close by them.
Working remotely successfully 
We have to help them overcome their fears if they are to reap the rewards of new ways of working. Most managers can move to a model which allows staff to work remotely when and only when they are clear about the outcomes that they require from each member of staff. Not being able to specify outcomes or measure them is the biggest barrier we have come across. 
Developing Performance Management for real master classes has helped a number of our clients  at The HR Lounge obtain higher productivity and reduce absence. 
A focus on outcomes is the only way forward as the digital world encapsulates everything that we do. 

So come on employers, specify those outcomes and trust your staff to get the job done in their PJ’s.





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