The Business Coach with Laura Murphy:“They’re off sick again …”

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Question: I have a staff member who is constantly off sick. I only employ 12 people and it’s having a significant impact. What should I do?” Roger

Answer: A 2010 survey by the CIPD revealed that, on average, staff take 7.7 sick days per year at a cost of £78 per day. Businesses lose then £600 per year per person through sickness yet few businesses monitor or manage this.

So first calculate how much time everybody in your company is taking for ill-health. You might find that actually this person’s record is comparable with the others and then you need to think about whether you’re scapegoating them and why. If it is significantly higher then you have another problem.

Putting in place a well managed, consistent implementation of an attendance policy will significantly reduce non-genuine absence rates freeing time to support those who are ill. So institute a company wide attendance policy. The emphasis on attendance is deliberate as it shifts the mindset to being at work. This policy should include constructive return to work interviews for long and short-term absences and then have that conversation with your employee.

Your own mindset is crucial here. Put your anxieties about the business to one side. Show genuine interest in their viewpoint to uncover the actual reasons for non-attendance. Using the facts put together a strategy for attendance that will address the issues, motivate them and re-engage them with the staff group. Keep it under review and positively reinforce the changes you’re implementing together.

Then start embedding a culture of general attention to health and well being throughout the company. Together these steps will improve everyone’s attendance rates and productivity.


Laura Murphy is the founder of mtc2 ltd, a management consultancy, training and coaching company. Laura is an organisation development specialist and business coach. If you have a problem then contact her at Names and details have been changed to protect confidentiality.

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