Impact on the team
Impact on the team
All you need to know in 30 seconds
- Before you speak to the employee consider what impact their absence is going to have and if there is anything key you might need to ask them about, for example, update on a key piece of work, meetings you may need to cover.
- Are you planning on covering their work and if so consider whether it would be appropriate to say that so the employee isn’t worrying about their work and can focus on their recovery.
- Talk to your employee about their illness and ask how they would like you to communicate this to the team.
- Respect that the employee may want privacy, and if this is the case discuss what you will communicate which may just be, x will be off this week, is hoping to be back next week but I will let you know when I have spoken to them.
- Be clear, positive and supportive with both the employee and the team focussing on the work that needs doing and how this will be managed not the absence and/or reason for absence.
- Make a plan of action to ensure services are minimally disrupted and your team are not over-stretched when covering workloads, e.g does work need re-prioritising.
- Make yourself aware of the resources available to help you and your team develop and improve so that you are best placed to cope with those pressures that may arise from time to time. Visit the Organisational Development pages on HRConnect to find out more about Resilience and Wellbeing and Effective Teams.
All you need to know in detail
It's important to talk to your employee about their illness, and consider:
- the length of sickness
- cover options
- what they want others to know
- how regularly they'd like to keep in contact
It is important to work with your team to manage the impact of the absent employee. One way to do this is to make sure other team members know how to carry out each other's duties.
Discussing and implementing contingency plans in the event of an absence with your team will not only maintain continuity of workflow but will also empower your team in being actively involved in the solution to the problem. The contingencies will be especially useful in the event of a longer term absence such as a serious or terminal illness, or if the employee decides on early or ill-health retirement.
Make sure you have an open door policy to discuss the impact of the employee's absence. Be clear, positive and supportive when discussing matters with both the person who is off sick and the rest of the team. This will help your team to remain positive and supportive of the person who is away sick, and reduce any gossip.
It is possible that the rise in workload among the team could give rise to feelings of resentment or anger. Lead by example and be supportive, positive and clear with your team, keep them informed as much as possible and openly acknowledge their efforts in maintaining the workflow during the team member's absence.
Your employee may not want colleagues to be informed of their illness. You should respect their need for privacy and be sensitive where possible and within reason, whilst making sure that the service provided is minimally disrupted. Be careful not to burden them with the repercussions of them being off sick as this could give rise to feelings of guilt which could impede their recovery.
Be aware that once a person’s condition becomes known, they can be overwhelmed with well-wishes and they might find this uncomfortable – talk to your employee and make a plan you can both agree on to handle this.
Make yourself aware of the resources available to help you and your team develop so that you are best placed to cope with those pressures that may arise from time to time. Visit the Organisational Development pages on HRConnect to find out more about Resilience and Wellbeing and Effective Teams.
You can also discuss with your team the availability of OHS and employee counselling should they require additional support in coping with their colleague’s illness and/or absence.