How work teams can stay on track when multiple people are out sick

It’s possible for more than one person on your team to be out sick at the same time. Here are steps employees and managers can take to stay on track at work when this is the case.

Sometimes, you can’t help but get sick during flu season. Yes, you’ve been diligent about staying healthy. Yes, you’ve been washing your hands even more frequently than usual to ward off coworkers’ maladies during this season. And yes, you’ve gotten your trusty flu shot— even if it doesn’t magically eradicate all chances of you catching the illness.

All of this being said, it’s also possible for more than one person on your team to be out sick at the same time — here are some steps employees and managers can take to stay on track at work when this is the case.

When in doubt, tell sick employees to stay home!

This will keep people from regularly coming in sick and spreading their illness with others on the team. Forget having to listen to others’ phone conversations and constant snacking (you included): Today’s open office plans make it especially easy to catch an illness from a coworker.

This is why it’s especially important to be understanding of people who have to take time off for legitimate health concerns (like the flu, or worse) — your health could depend on it too.

Wouldn’t you rather let a sick employee take the time they need to get well instead of having them slog to work and attempt to perform at their usual level?

Emphasize your work from home policies

Managers can really set the tone with this. Make sure that your direct reports are clear on your company’s work-from-home policy if you have one. This can definitely come in handy during winter months, when people are struggling with the flu, colds and a host of other health problems due to seasonal changes.

If people know they have the option to work from home on days when they aren’t quite feeling right, they might just take it easy for a day, and rest as much as possible before and after they work. This can also help prevent the spread of illnesses that might just be starting to rear their ugly heads.

Make sure employees know how to fill in for others

Having a basic, working knowledge of how to do someone else’s job temporarily could really go a long way.

This means handing over all those login credentials well in advance, way before flu season starts. You may be able to control how and when you use up your vacation days (even if you hesitate to), but you can’t necessarily control how your body reacts to illnesses, or how long it takes to fight them off.

Keeping this in mind, some members of your team might have to take a couple of days off, so those who make it to the office might have to pick up the slack every once in a while. It won’t be forever, but they must be equipped to do so.

Jane Burnett|is a reporter for Ladders and can be reached at jburnett@theladders.com.