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Create a safe and respectful space for the employee to express themselves

Even the most engaged and productive employee will experience sickness or situations that prevent them from coming to work. A manager’s response n these occasions can have an impact on the individual’s engagement with work, length of time away from the office and future absences.

Listening, reserving judgement at this stage is critical. It might seem obvious but when you are busy, the importance of listening can sometimes be forgotten. If this was you ringing in sick, how would you feel and what would you want your manager to say?

Your role is to support employees and ensure you have the information you need to keep things running in their absence. When employees call, text or email to let you know they’re not able to attend work, you should always find out why they’re not able to come to work, how long they’re likely to be away for and if anything needs to be progressed while they’re away from work.

A clear, well-communicated procedure for what happens when someone calls in sick helps to avoid any misunderstandings and enables you to get the information you need.

Support employee health and wellbeing

Managers can build a team culture, with a positive psychosocial climate through these actions:

Building a safe and inclusive workplace culture is the responsibility of all employees. However, research indicates that management styles that are characterised by openness and encouragement of employee participation are more likely to promote a positive safety culture. Workplace health and wellbeing programs increase employee engagement, leading to reduced absenteeism and increased productivity. If you would like to know more, information is available at HeadsUp, Comcare and SafeWork Australia.

Discuss and facilitate options for alternative working arrangements and develop solutions that are mutually beneficial

Employees have an entitlement to request flexible working arrangements in order to balance work and family responsibilities, in accordance with the Fair Work Act 2009. You must consider the request and must not unreasonably withhold approval. A request for flexible working arrangements cannot be refused simply because a manager or supervisor has a preference for how work is performed.

As a manager, one great way to offer flexibility is to adopt the attitude of "if not, why not?"

Where possible, allow your employees to work remotely and to non-traditional hours. Ensure you have explored all possibilities before declining requests for flexible work arrangements. All agencies have flexible working policies in place. As a manager, you are responsible for translating that policy into practice.

The goal is to shift the focus to the work being done and the outcomes achieved, rather than the amount of hours spent behind the desk.

When you foster an environment that allows employees time to properly manage their personal and professional lives, you reduce workplace stress.