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How to stop everyday appointments affecting employee productivity

Thursday, 14 Mar 2019

We’ve all faced the headache of trying to squeeze in a trip to the doctor or dentist around work. Not every appointment can wait until an evening or weekend, yet it somehow doesn’t feel justified taking time out of the office.

It’s little surprise, then, that over four million people put off going to the dentist because they fear the repercussions of being absent from work. Without realising, employers often create a culture of presenteeism – especially as these short commitments often go unrecorded.

Rather than ignoring the fact that people have personal needs, some of which cannot be attended to outside office hours, companies should instead be looking at ways to manage everyday absences more effectively. This way, your workforce can quickly address problems and pressures that are affecting their ability to work, and you can trust them to be open when they need to take time off.

Is presenteeism causing bigger problems?

It may not even register with many bosses that their team members don’t feel comfortable leaving the office for a doctor or dentist appointment, but the consequences of putting off minor consultations can be massive.

Before long, a minor toothache can turn into a full-blown abscess, or an untreated sore throat becomes serious laryngitis. This results in employees having to take much longer periods of absence in order to recover, putting pressure on healthy colleagues to cover their workload.

In addition, there are often non-urgent reasons that people may want to flex their hours slightly, but are too afraid to ask. Leaving early for their child’s parents evening is one example, or taking a slightly longer lunch break once a week to do an exercise class.

While these types of absences aren’t essential, offering your workforce a little give and take when it comes to office hours can hugely boost their commitment and motivation. In addition to improving productivity, it can also positively impact loyalty, staff retention and new employee referrals – all things that contribute to a happy, healthy workforce.

Taking the time out of tracking staff movements

To manage appointments effectively, everyone relevant in the company needs to know when someone is going to be absent – even if it’s just for a morning or an afternoon. At present, many companies’ leave management systems are chaotic or non-existent; if it’s hard to record when someone has a week off, how can you hope to record a trip to the doctor?

The answer lies in making it much easier to track staff movements, and this is best done through a digital leave management solution. By centralising all employee leave requests on a single, online system, businesses can give your entire workforce access to a complete record of availability at-a-glance.

By monitoring exactly who’s off at any point in time, departments can allocate work effectively, to ensure that a visit to the dentist or a quick health check-up doesn’t compromise productivity. It is also useful to have this information to hand when team members are looking to schedule client calls and meetings, so they don’t have to waste time renegotiating appointments when it turns out their colleague is off that afternoon.

Online leave management software has the added benefit of being easy for line managers and HR staff to operate. As notifications can be sent directly to approvers, your senior staff can easily process leave requests of any type, and an approval is sent back to the individual concerned. This speed of response is particularly useful for urgent appointments, as often the need to visit the doctor or dentist is last-minute, and the medical professional your employee needs to consult has a limited window of availability.

Greater trust encourages higher productivity

Companies tend to think of annual leave and scheduling requirements when investing in an online leave management platform, but it can be just as useful for managing everyday appointments that crop up when you least expect them.

By being more transparent about taking time off, your workforce can ensure that brief absences do not affect overall business productivity. And the flexible working culture you create encourages trust, hard work and commitment.

But most importantly of all, putting an effective system in place for managing appointments cuts out the scenario where under-the-weather employees sit at their desk, trying to ignore their pain and suffering. By getting seen promptly, small ailments will not turn into major injuries or illnesses, so you continue to get maximum productivity from your staff.

WhosOff enables companies to manage all types of leave via a central online dashboard. Start your free WhosOff trial to see how we can cut the time and cost of managing staff leave, to create a seamless way of working.

Photo by Pixabay from Pexels

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Posted by Tony Bushell

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