A lot of companies have a work-hard culture that contributes to guilt feelings when employees need extra time. It wasn’t uncommon in pre-pandemic days for employees to worry that being absent from the workplace could harm their reputation or their career.
In a post-pandemic world, it becomes essential for companies to change their attitude toward absenteeism and offer teams the spare time and flexibility they need. With plans to maintain digital work arrangements in most business sectors, flexibility is likely to play a major role in the post-pandemic recovery. However, all companies, whether they reintroduce office-based presence or not, must create a people-focused culture that values personal time and needs.
Strict Schedules Are Unproductive
The typical 9 AM to 5 PM office schedule is not only old-fashion, but it is also ineffective. In a pre-pandemic environment, employees who had early out-of-work appointments would face negative comments and blame for potential delays. Using services such as a hotline for handling employee call-offs could transform this clock-obsessed culture and allow employees to share last-minute changes to their schedules.
Additionally, embracing flexible working hours, even in the office, would give teams more leverage to sort out external appointments and errands. Indeed, micro-managers who judge work performance by the clock are likely to drive talent away. Flexible working time would considerably reduce absenteeism. Indeed, it makes it possible for staff to manage out-of-the-office meetings and activities without needing to take a day off.
Your Team Needs Headspace
Ultimately, even if the company doesn’t explicitly describe its attitude to time management, the business culture can create a toxic environment. Unfortunately, too many employers fail to discourage teams from working overtime. The “work hard to play hard” mindset remains a constant in a lot of traditional workplaces. Consequently, it’s not uncommon for workers to accumulate long working hours, sometimes even without breaks. This time-greedy approach can harm productivity and the overall quality of work. But it also affects staff wellbeing and health.
An environment that encourages employees to give 110% every day leads to heightened stress. When the mental pressure becomes too heavy, people are more vulnerable to emotional distress and fatigue. High stress means high absenteeism, as your team requires sick days to recharge their batteries. What is more alarming is that some employees face complaints and are accused of taking unnecessary sick days because they were not perceived as “being ill”. It’s important to remember that while stress is invisible, it is the number one killer in the workplace.
You’re At Home, You Might As Well Work
In a home office environment, some employees might feel uncomfortable at the thought of taking a day off to recover in case of illness. However, often the fault lies with the manager who assures them that, as there’s no risk of contagion, they could just carry on working. It’s a damaging attitude that can slow down the healing process. People need to rest without feeling judged when they are sick. Being at home doesn’t cancel sickness.
In conclusion, businesses need to change the negative culture that surrounds absent days. We need to make it ok for people who need time off to take as long as required without feeling judged or blamed. The pandemic has taught us one thing: People-focused companies are likely to lead the economic recovery. Therefore, let’s work together to give back our team the time they need.