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Beyond Sick Days - Unveiling Hidden Conflicts in the Workplace

Exploring the underlying causes behind employee absenteeism

The first Monday of February marks “National Sickie Day”, statistically the day where employers can expect the highest level of sickness amongst the workforce.

While it may be tempting to dismiss this phenomenon as a one-off event, it does raise important questions about the deeper reasons behind employee absences. Beyond the occasional bout of flu or a nasty cold, could there actually be internal issues within the workplace that are causing distress and worry among employees?

National Sickie Day

Sickness due to mental health issues costs businesses in the UK approximately £45 billion per year. A substantial portion of this staggering figure is undoubtedly attributable to conflicts within the workplace.

So take the opportunity to ask appropriate questions of your absentees and understand whether they are in fact struggling with the effects of hidden conflict or disputes within your team.

Ask the Right Questions:

Here are some questions that you might include that can help to uncover whether there are underlying issues for an employee returning to work after a period of ill-health:

  • How are you feeling now that you're back?

  • Have you received the support you needed during your absence, and how can we support you in your return to work?

  • Is there anything about your work that you find challenging or uncomfortable?

  • Have there been any changes in the workplace dynamics that may have affected you?

  • Are there any aspects of your job that you are finding particularly stressful or demanding?

  • Do you feel comfortable communicating any concerns or issues with your colleagues or supervisors?

  • Have there been any changes in the workplace dynamics that may have affected you? 

  • Are there any aspects of your job that you find particularly stressful or demanding?

Remember to create a safe and non-judgmental space for the employee to express their thoughts and feelings. The goal is to understand their perspective and address any potential issues that may have contributed to their absence.

Steps Towards a Healthier Workplace:

As National Sickie Day sheds light on the importance of workplace well-being, employers can take concrete steps to create a healthier work environment. This may include implementing wellness programs, providing mental health resources, conducting regular check-ins, and fostering a positive workplace culture that prioritizes employee satisfaction and fulfillment.

On National Sickie Day, let's use the occasion to reflect on the well-being of our workforce. By addressing the root causes of absenteeism and promoting a culture of openness and support, businesses can not only save money but also create a workplace where employees thrive, fostering long-term success and sustainability.

If you feel there is a conflict situation within your team and would like to understand more about how mediation and conflict coaching might help, please do get in touch.


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