Are workers telling the truth when they say they are ill? British bosses are reporting that more and more staff appear to be skiving off with faked illnesses and many firms are taking new steps to crack down on malingerers.

Research by the Confederation of British Industry suggests that workplace absence is on the rise for the first time in five years. Last year, British workers were off sick on average for 7.2 days up from 6.8 the previous year. It costs UK businesses £11.75 billion (S$24.43 million) a year, the CBI says. It also estimates that 15 per cent of all illness is due to people taking days off when they are not really ill.

There will always people who take time off work for no good reason, but managers need to look at how they manage their people. If they made the workplace a better place, fewer people would take a “sickie”.

If you want a highly motivated team which doesn’t take time off work, doesn’t keep looking for other jobs and makes a positive contribution to your business, there are three things you need to do.

1. Spend some quality time

One or two minutes of quality time on a regular basis are far more productive than a one-hour review every year.

You and your team need to get to know each other better. It will help you build a relationship with each individual. You’ll gain a much better understanding of them and how they are handling the job. It will also show that you care about them too.

Spending quality time will encourage opinions and ideas from your team members and allows you to explain the company’s mission. It gives staff a feeling of being in on things — which is a big motivator. It will also help you build an “early 
warning system” to alert you of any problems — both business and personal — that a team member may be facing.
Finally, it builds team spirit and morale.

2. Give feedback and coaching

Regularly tell each member of your team when he is doing well or not so well. I read some recent research that suggested 65 per cent of employees in the United States received no recognition at work in the past year. My experience tells me that it is much the same throughout the world and much worse in some countries.

Some managers still think, “Why should I praise people when they’re only doing what they’re paid to do?”

It’s also important to tell people when they are not 
performing. There are too many managers who either ignore poor behaviour or come down on the person like a ton of bricks.

3. Be a believer

We are now getting into the area of “empowerment” which was first introduced in the 1980s and became a bit of a management buzzword. However, I believe that it’s one of the most promising but least understood concepts in management today.

Empowerment is about utilising the knowledge, skill, experience and motivational power that’s already within your people.

You have to trust your people to perform their designated tasks with minimal supervision, so long as they give you feedback on key issues.

This means giving them power in decision-making. If you can do this successfully, you will achieve your business goals and motivate your team members.