We learnt last time about the perils of presenteeism and the negative impact this trend is having on Australian law firms, resulting in poor performance, low productivity and client dissatisfaction.
Today, we’re going to look at some simple, sure-fire methods that can help prevent a workplace culture of presenteeism.
1. Model from the top
Senior partners and managers should model using leave for illness, mental health maintenance and caring responsibilities. Actions speak louder than words and the best way to prove to staff that presenteeism is a no-go in your firm is to walk the talk. It also paves a healthier path for those junior staff members working towards a promotion; if they see their workplace as a good place to climb the ladder, they’re more likely to stay with your company long-term, increasing staff retention.
2. Change the conversation
Are your staff aware of their leave entitlements? Make this an important part of recruitment conversations and then check in on staff regularly to check how their leave consumption is going. Encourage staff who are complaining of illness and caring responsibilities to use leave. Speaking about leave in this way will have the added bonus of allowing staff who feel internal pressure to come to work to rethink this attitude; it will also create a healthier workplace culture.
3. Make it easy for staff to take leave
This isn’t always easy for SMEs, but think about practical measures you can take to make it easier for staff to take leave when needed. Are you able to provide staff with additional leave allowances beyond the legal requirements? Can you drop billable hour targets? Importantly, can you assure employees that if they take time off, their work will be taken care of without casting the burden on their colleagues or piling up to greet them on their return to work? An ongoing flexible relationship with an outsourcing provider can mean there is help on hand to relieve the strain on your team when staff take leave; if your team know that there is support there when needed, they will make better decisions about using leave.
4. Make the everyday sustainable
Don’t wait for a crisis to implement these measures – make the everyday sustainable for your employees. Are workloads and deadlines reasonable? A good manager will know how staff are coping with their everyday tasks. If you suspect your team are swamped with tasks that could be easily outsourced, it’s time to start lessening the load on your employees. An outsourcing provider can work alongside your business to take on conveyancing, formatting, marketing and bookkeeping work, allowing your staff to focus on client service, strategy and looking after themselves.
As you can see, a few small changes can help change a workplace culture around presenteeism; they all start with good leadership.
If you’d like to talk to SBA about how we can help you manage presenteeism in your company, don’t hesitate to contact us. SBA LPO offers integrated legal process outsourcing both onshore and offshore. Our sister company SBA Legal Solutions provide Australian-based legal professionals for whatever your requirements.