How a Great Sick Time Policy Can Impact Your Company’s Health

Blog Barista: Jessica Carnacchi | Sept 19, 2018 | Business Practices | Brew time: 5 min

Sick time is one of those underrated benefits that often stands in the shadows of healthcare, retirement, and vacation. It’s not often that you’ll hear someone say they accepted a new position because the company has an incredible sick time policy. But, what if it could be?

It wasn’t until this year that I truly started to understand the power a great sick time policy can have for not only employees, but for employers as well. As an HR and Talent Acquisition rep, I have a unique situation where I get to see the benefits of both sides.

2018 has proven to be a… let’s go with “eventful”… year for me and my family. I’ve had to use more sick time this year than I have in previous years combined. Perhaps what I’ve experienced this year might not seem like a lot to others. But to me, it was everything. It consumed my mind. The “what ifs” or “how longs” provided enough stress and worry already. What if I had to worry about how much time off I was taking or work I was missing on top of everything else? It’d be yet another stressor on an already full plate.  

It’s not uncommon to come across companies who offer a limited number of sick days. Some will only provide paid time off (PTO), which could be used for vacation, to take sicks days, or whatever your heart desires, really. But regardless, once those days are used, then what?

What happens if your child gets sick again? Or your spouse or parents become ill? What if you have to see doctor after doctor in order to find out what is really going on? Now you’re eating into that precious vacation time, or even worse taking unpaid time off. For some, taking unpaid time off isn’t an option. So, as all of this is happening, now you’re counting the hours on your fingers to make sure you don’t run into that situation.

KL&A’s sick time policy gives each employee 40 days to use solely for health-related events. FORTY DAYS (or eight weeks, whichever sounds better). No accruing. No gimmicks. But it’s there to use every single year. And not just for illness, but for events like doctor’s appointments, too. Appointments for you, your spouse, your kids, your parents, and other immediate family members. Because when you or someone in your family is sick or seriously ill, the last thing you should have to worry about is making it to work that day.

As an employer, providing your staff with 40 days of sick time could seem risky, but there’s several benefits that’ll make it worth it.

Productivity

Typically, employees are less productive when they are ill. And if you have an open office environment, illness may spread rather quickly, and the overall productivity of the company may drop. Allowing employees to take the necessary time off to recover will help your employees bounce back more swiftly and could ultimately save your overall productivity level. With a flexible sick time policy that allows folks to take time off for appointments, or work from home when feeling under the weather, we’ve found that our overall productivity is affected very little. We’ll even see employees make up some of the time they missed, even though it’s not mandatory. Therefore, affecting our bottom line very little.

Trust

Some organizations may not offer sick time because they are hesitant that the time would be misused. However, providing ample time is ultimately saying that you trust your employees not to abuse the policy. Sure, 40 days is a lot and it’s not a guarantee that someone won’t end up using it all. But this will allow you to connect with your employee in a way that would not be possible without that allotment. If a staff member is approaching the 40-day threshold, have a conversation. Check to see if additional support is needed and how you can help. In turn, the employee will feel supported and you will start to build a level of mutual trust.  

Value & Loyalty

Having a policy that provides a generous amount of time off sends a message to employees that your company not only cares about their health and overall well-being, but the health and well-being of their family. This displays a level of value that is placed on each employee. In general, employees who feel valued are those who are the most loyal. They’ll invest in your company and become your advocates. Not to mention, feelings of value and trust will ultimately lead to less turnover.  

Cultural Impact

Each business has a different cultural view on sick time. Being able to call in sick without fear of retribution or lost wages can have a positive impact on cultural expectations within your company. The thought of being able to put your health first becomes the cultural norm, which can shift the way your employees view work/life balance.

Risk vs. Reward

While most of the benefits a sick time policy can provide aren’t tangible, the overall effect it has on employee morale and productivity, as well as company culture can vastly outweigh the potential risks for implementing a generous policy. In turn, you’ll be rewarded with a happy, engaged staff.

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