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Tired of employees calling in sick? Reduce the frustration and financial loss with these cutting edge strategies

Tired of employees calling in sick? Reduce the frustration and financial loss with these cutting edge strategies

All leaders know that feeling. Your phone is ringing and it’s an hour before the office opens and you just know: That employee is calling in sick.

So now you have the fun of finding a way for someone to cover their workload.

On the one hand, you know that if people are genuinely ill then it’s absolutely the right thing for them to stay home. They need the rest and you definitely don’t want them spreading anything to the rest of their team. On the other hand, you know that productivity will take a hit and you’ll have to spend time putting solutions in place to cover.

The worst of it is when that particular employee is sick again and again. You instantly think “here we go again”. You’ve got the same call. The same person. The same time. The same poorly voice.

Regardless of how patient we are, it can be incredibly testing to be polite in this situation, especially if you’ve also got a few other people off sick unexpectedly.

At POD HR & Training, we recognise that this is one of the painful areas of employing people and we answer questions on this subject every day. In fact, I’m helping a business right now that employs 30 people and we’re working together on a strategy to reduce employee absence. We’re only about 3 weeks in, but we’ve already seen great results from the methods I’m about to share with you.

I know for a fact that staff absence can have a HUGE impact on financial performance, as well as team stability and morale. I wanted to put together this guide to help you apply some slightly out of the ordinary ‘business advice’ to tackle this issue and stop it from repeatedly rearing its ugly head.

We’ll explore how the mind can cause physical issues and I’ll be providing some NLP methods to nip it in the bud.

employees looking at graphs and data

Why your employees mental state determines their physical state

This is a great subject and I love talking about it! I could honestly write a whole book about it. (And I might actually write one soon! Keep an eye out on our digital learning page!)

For now, i’ll give you a brief insight into the subject and focus more on how you can implement the strategies that’ll save you money.

The main, ‘big picture’ you need to know is this: Everything starts in the mind.

If you wanted to stand up right now, you would first have to decide it in your mind before your body actually makes it happen. This is a very simple example, but you may be surprised to hear that this has been shown to be relevant with a huge range of things, even getting sick!

Research shows that our subconscious mind determines our physical and emotional well-being, so don’t scoff at the idea of wellness and mind-management next time someone brings it up!

Our subconscious mind is built with a protection measure in place for us. It’s built to know what we need and has the blueprint for perfect health. Often, we’re not aware of how we’re actually the ones who have caused our physical state, but we are.

For example: You’re overworked. You’ve been working all the hours under the sun for years and years, ignoring small physical issues like regular headaches or back pain, and what happens? You get wiped out and end up completely throwing your back out, or coming down with a major sickness which stops you working for a week or two.

This may sound like a bad thing, but it actually comes from your subconscious with a positive intent. It needs you to stop working so hard for a while, and this is the only way it knows how to tell you.

I’ve heard so many examples of this! Sometimes, illnesses present themselves as a way to serve us in some way. But, how does this relate to improving your business?

Well, if sickness starts in the mind, then it’s the mind that we need to work on to prevent unnecessary sickness in the workplace.

As a Master Practitioner of NLP, I’ve helped several people work on health issues through mind work. It’s just like tidying up!

Clutter throughout the workplace poses risks of falling, removes comfort, and makes it harder to relax. Clutter of the mind does exactly the same.

When you tidy up thoughts and what’s going on in the mind, you can get the best out of your people both mentally AND physically.

It’s because of this that so many athletes and top sports professionals have regular mind-set coaching.

colleagues talking and enjoying their work day

How to reduce staff absence

The key question that most Business Owners and Directors ask me is, ‘how can I reduce staff absence?’

There are several basic level methods you can implement to improve employee well-being, such as:

  • Provide development
  • Encourage teamwork
  • Reward and recognition
  • Value them as an individual
  • Give them a voice – invite their input
  • Empower them
  • Make sure they have purpose and engagement with their career path
  • Communicate with them often
  • Help them achieve work-life balance
  • Help them feel safe and secure
  • Take care of the work environment and conditions

These are all standard themes I would recommend to be a key focus for the business regardless. By maintaining these areas, you will increase satisfaction, engagement, and consequently reduce staff absence.

However, I promised you cutting edge techniques in this article. So, here it goes:

1. Techniques to clear the mind

We’ve all heard about mindfulness. It can be incredibly helpful to many people, but a lot of people just don’t ‘get’ it. Usually that’s because they haven’t tried the right techniques and give up far too easily.

By clearing the mind, you’ll help to heal the body.

If people go home with stress on their mind, it will later manifest into physical issues as a release. One of the best ways you can help improve wellbeing is to create a structure for clearing the mind before people leave for the day.

Just this week I’ve done 9 NLP Coaching Sessions. Within them, I’ve taught something called the Hakalou (also known as The Now State). This is a state of being present.

It’s a technique that expands awareness of the current moment and blocks out all other noises and thoughts in the mind. Once they master it, any issues they felt were a huge problem just aren’t issues in this state.

I set them all up with The Now State and asked them to talk to me about the problem and they couldn’t even speak about it! Most of them laughed and said it wasn’t even a problem anymore.

Working with the mind is simple when you know how. When you don’t, it can seem impossible. The Now State is extremely relaxing and is the perfect way to reduce stress.

Whenever I run NLP training, I will always spend 5 minutes at the end of the day in The Now State to allow my mind to relax and be calm. This means everything I’ve learnt over the day is absorbed at the deepest level.

When you see a room full of people in this calm state and see the change in their body language with the tension melting away, it’s quite a sight to behold! It’s like nothing else, really. The peace in the room is wonderful.

So, how does it work?

Worry and anxiety comes from the past and the future. When you’re in a fully present state and not time travelling in your mind, you’re in a world where nothing can touch you. There’s no issues and everything is always okay.

We’ve got an infographic on this to walk you through the process of getting into this state here, as well as an article with more details about The Now State here.

Holding the state requires a little bit of practice but I promise that once you’ve mastered it, you’ll learn to process every situation with complete ease.

Let me know how it goes and if you need any extra help, i’m always happy to help. Contact me on natalie@podhr.co.uk and I can give you some further tips.

I know some of you are probably sceptical about this, but cutting edge requires embracing new thinking, even if it initially sounds a little abstract!

Leaders sitting around a board room table talking about team member sickness levels

2. Submodalities

Through the process and structure of NLP, we learn that the subconscious mind works with pictures, sounds, and feelings.

They’re like the coding behind our personality programs. It tells us what we like, dislike, what we’re attracted to, or repelled by. When you change this code, you shift the neurological reaction to the subject matter.

An example of this is when I was on my way to the hospital with my Nan this morning. She gets bad headaches a lot and this morning she felt one coming on. We were on our way to a really important appointment and so I knew it would go much better if she felt better, so I started to use submodalities.

Now, in order for submodalities to work you have to have rapport with the person, otherwise the subconscious mind won’t be open to the techniques. This is because NLP techniques aren’t logical. They don’t make perfect sense when you hear an NLP phrase because it’s specifically designed to access a different part of our minds.

Thankfully, given she’s my Nan, we have great rapport.

I started by asking my Nan: “Where is the pain? Can you point to it?”

She said it was over her eyes and eyebrows.

I said, “Okay, what colour is it?”, “Multi-coloured” she replied.

“Is it moving, or still?” I asked her next. She replied that it was still.

“Is it heavy, or light?” I asked. She said it felt like a mist.

So, I said “Okay Nan. See that mist coming outside of your forehead and make a swirl of mist that goes up and up into the sky and gets carried away with the breeze until it just fades into the distance far away from you and let me know when that’s been done”.

She took a few moments, but eventually she said “All done”.

I then checked in and ask her how the pain is and low and behold, her pain has faded significantly. Instead of remaining above her eyebrows, all she felt now was a slight ache by her ears.

So I followed up with, “Okay Nan. See that mist come out of your ear and turn into a shimmering bubble that floats up and away until it pops and disappears. Let me know when that’s been done.”

She sits up straighter and lets me know that’s done and the pain has completely gone away! In fact, she was smiling and chatting away as if she’d never had the headache in the first place.

While this was happening, my Mum in the backseat was shaking her head and was shocked my Nan was answering my seemingly random questions and was surprised how effective it was (and my Mum really believes in my skills as an NLP Practitioner!).

Obviously my incredible bond with my Nan made this far more effective than it would do if you tried it out on your employees, but you can still have a great impact on them if you have rapport.

You may be thinking that this story is a little random. My Nan isn’t relevant to you! Of course, I know this. However, what you can take from this is that physical issues CAN be released through NLP techniques.

This isn’t a miracle solve for health problems. I’m not saying it is. What I’m saying is that submodalities can be used to help the mind release some pain and change the feeling.

When you change it within the mind, it’s a form of release and therefore you can reduce or remove pain.

I’ve worked with ear problems, infections, muscular problems, and even back problems before. Once the mind relates to the pain differently, it experiences a change because you’ve changed the ‘code’. You CAN’T experience it the same, because you can’t feel it the same.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not suggesting you attempt this right now. You need to be trained and qualified to work with the mind in this way as there’s very specific phrases and language you need to use.

However, if you can get your team to a place where they realise they can manage their physical symptoms, they could achieve better health.

I use this on myself all the time and it’s incredibly useful! My health has been fantastic since I gained this skill to manage my mind.

Sometimes, the cause of the pain or illness is more significant and will require further work on trapped memories. However, submodalities is an easy way to manage symptoms and when you get into it, it can be surprisingly fun!

This is actually one of the main things I run workshops on for employees to help them manage their minds better. When they connect with the power of the mind and gain the resources available, their results flourish quite dramatically.

I know it sounds unbelievable. It’s one of those ‘you need to see it to believe it’ kind of things!

If you want some help with this, I’m happy to answer any questions you might have about using this technique to reduce staff absences or even organise a workshop for all of your employees on mind management. Send us a message here and let us know when you’d be available to have a quick free consultation chat about your needs.

Three employees working at their desk as one looks over his team members absence records

3. Be aware of potential causes

We all have first aid kits around the office, right? But what do we do when someone has an emotional or mind-set challenge?

Do you hope they’ll just get on with it?

Do you tell them to think positive?

Hear them out and then just tell them it’ll all be okay?

If you do any of these, honestly, don’t bother doing it again because you’ve done absolutely nothing to help! Sorry!

If you really want to help someone’s frame of mind, you need a framework to do it.

In my experience, these are the areas that cause the biggest mind-set challenges which then result in physical symptoms:

  • Being inauthentic
  • Not expressing your thoughts and feelings
  • Not connecting with people around you
  • Loss of identity or purpose
  • Limiting beliefs
  • Low self esteem
  • Anxiety
  • Guilt
  • Anger
  • Fear
  • Focusing on problems and negatives
  • Keeping hold of frustrations
  • Internal conflict over decisions or priorities
  • Blame
  • Loss
  • Actions out of sync with values

What you should create instead to combat any sickness is:

  • Gratitude
  • Honesty
  • Letting go
  • Expression
  • No judgement
  • Acceptance and appreciation for individuality
  • Make sure everyone has a clear purpose in the organisation and understands the importance of the part they play
  • Understand everyone’s values
  • Reframing limiting beliefs
  • Use Anchoring to change states
  • Regular feedback and recognition
  • Team support, collaborations, and communication
  • Give them opportunities to express their work challenges and concerns

This is a process of elimination. The employee themselves may not be consciously aware of why they’re giving themselves an illness to avoid something at work. It can happen at a very deep level so they can’t recognise their internal struggle.

That being the case, you can make a significant impact by developing an honest, safe, supportive culture. You want your employees to feel valued and come to work because they like it, not because they have to be there.

When I work with clients to reduce absence on our Business Consultancy programmes, I can quickly assess where the causes of the high absence levels are. That way I can work with teams and individuals to change mindsets towards health and work.

If you would like some further help on this subject and you’re tired of repeated issues, email me at natalie@podhr.co.uk to arrange a chat. I’ll give you some free tips and advice and let you know some options, regardless of whether you proceed with us or not. Every business requires a different approach, so I’ll be honest about what impact I can have.

Before you even think about spending any money on this, I would strongly suggest working out your financial loss from sickness if you don’t already have that calculated. Only then should you consider if it’s worth investing in anything to reduce it!

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