Carl Chapman, associate & head of workplace health, Barnett Waddingham writes a blog series explaining what wellbeing really means
Barnett Waddingham's Carl Chapman is writing a blog series on Eudaimonia using the Greek alphabet as a reference point to give insight into how this old concept can significantly improve your business performance by maximising output from your greatest asset.
Η η – eta
I am writing this particular blog entry ill and confined to my bed with what has to be one of the most crippling cases of flu I have ever experienced. I can hear half the readership crying man-flu while the other half are sympathising quietly.
This case of flu has meant that I missed my Monday deadline for writing about eta and theta and I cannot delay the blog series too much so I have had to take one on the chin and just get on with it. I fear though this may take me a lot longer than previous blogs, enough said!
As I said I missed my deadline because of flu, as a result I had to set a new deadline or eta for this blog. Easy.
Minor illnesses such as flu, colds and stomach upsets etc, are still the number one cause of absence in the UK although the vast majority will be short in duration, 5 days or less it can still have a big impact.
I personally don’t take many days absent as I am quite lucky and don’t get ill very often but also I have a job where my work has to be completed whether I am ill or not (exhibit A – flu, bed, blog). This means that taking “sickies” is really of no benefit to me and the same is true of a lot of people in financial services, insurance and many other white collar industries. Let’s be honest though we all know that some people take “sickies” and some companies have even given their employees an allocation of “duvet days” to take instead of calling in sick.
Sometimes with short term illness you need to get medication quickly in order to cut the absence from 7 or 8 days down to 3 or 4 days. Good examples of this are tonsillitis and ear infections (two things I know quite a bit about). Penicillin in both cases is what is needed to treat the infection and I’m sure you are all aware that penicillin is not available over the counter.
I am quite lucky where I live in that I can normally get a doctor’s appointment within a day or two, where I used to live it was at least a week. If you have an ear infection or tonsillitis and need to wait a week to get penicillin, you may as well not bother getting the penicillin, and your absence will likely be double that had you got the treatment from day one.
Being ill is hideous and obviously nobody enjoys it, and from an employers perspective it also has an impact on business performance. Wouldn’t it be great if we could help our employees feel better but also get them back to work quicker?
Θ θ – theta
I feel like there is so much more to say on sickness absence so I’m going to just carry on. Let’s pretend that theta means to “continue when one is in the zone”.
So wouldn’t it be great if we could help our employees feel better and also get them back to work quicker? I think with new innovations we can. As I said earlier I think the waiting times of local GP’s plays a big part so virtual GP services provided by companies like Babylon and Doctor Now are welcome options.
The sell is that the vast majority of GP appointments have no need for a physical examination and prescriptions can be sent quickly to your local pharmacist whether at work or at home. When I say quickly, you are usually talking the same day.
I am not saying this is the answer to all of our sickness absence issues but I think it can be part of the solution alongside a robust absence management system that has triggers built into it to push intervention services and a well thought our prevention strategy including annual flu vaccinations for example.
One final thought; don’t forget presenteeism. Too many of us are encouraged or at worst forced to come back into work when still ill, this can make others around you ill which creates an even bigger problem, and also doesn’t help in any way the recovery time of those ill in the first place.
Let me put it this way if you take 3 days to recover then you would be better off taking a full three days off and losing 3 days of working time than returning after 1 day still ill then working at 30% to 40% capacity for the next week as you recover while infecting everyone else in the office at the same time.