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National Sickie Day: Managing the stress of missing workers

Monday 6 February has been dubbed "National Sickie Day"–  the most popular day in the year for UK employees to be reliably unreliable and phone their bosses to say they won’t be in.
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When it comes to National Sickie Day, it’s a trend that usually sees a high level of employees call in sick on the first Monday of February.

Of course, it’s not always a case of National Sickie Day for workers to skive. It could be a case of a Sunday night that got out of hand, a slight cold, last minute tickets from a friend to head to a gig – I won’t ask for a hands up of how many people have (or at least seriously considered) pulling a strategic sickie when they are supposed to be working.

Whether employees are curing a hangover after a big pay day night out, simply just not feeling it or are actually sick, who knows – but what we do know is that absent employees can cause major stress for any business but especially for small businesses owners dependent on a small pool of staff.

However instead of feeling left in the lurch, small business owners can be prepared for the (un)expected with the right technology at hand.

The many hats of the SME owner

With lots of responsibilities we know that small business owners wear many hats, which can lead to feeling overworked and stressed.

Busy SME owners with a limited number of staff can mean working long hours tending to the needs of the business. When an employee calls in sick another hat is added to the stack, which can mean that longer term, more strategic priorities must be put on hold, to the detriment of business growth – particularly around National Sickie Day.

There are many ways in which technology can assist with National Sickie Day. For example, helping businesses to track live stock levels.

This takes away the need to waste time manually counting up the number of Coca-Cola cans left behind the bar to free up more time to connect with customers – whether serving them face to face or creating social media plans for online engagement with the brand.

It also allows you to see when certain items are running low, allowing them to place orders with suppliers in good time. There’s nothing more disappointing to a customer – let alone to business sales – than to have to utter the words, “sorry we’re out of stock”.

Technology also allows small business owners to keep track of all holiday and sick days. Having these dates all in one system helps prepare in advance of staff taking time off and also highlight areas of concern if, for example, staff members are increasingly calling in sick on a particular day – such as National Sickie Day.

Let data do the talking

For time-poor small businesses owners days can run into weeks, and weeks into months. Before you know it, a whole quarter has flown by, and it’s all too easy not to have put as much thought as you might have liked into vital areas of your business.

Knowing your customers is crucial when it comes to running a successful business. By utilising data analytics, SMEs can connect with existing customers and reach out to new ones with tailored offers and promotions.

With the right software in place, you can easily dive into trading history to spot trends from previous years – did specific products sell particularly well?

By keeping an eye on trends in your data and with a little forward planning, you can stay one step ahead of your customers’ needs. Understanding the motivation and inspiration behind sales peaks means business owners can stock up well in time and build relevant promotions and marketing strategies.

There’s nothing more encouraging for customers than knowing their favourite store will have what the need in stock before they even knew they wanted it!

Take your business to the clouds

Just because you own a small business, doesn’t mean you have to think small. When it comes to running a business, owners would be wise to take full advantage of cloud computing. It’s easy for busy business owners to burn out doing the day-to-day work, miss a beat and end up missing vital opportunities.

Having the ability to look over your business’ takings at the end of the day, from your tablet or laptop, gives you a valuable remote oversight to spot business areas worth paying more attention to.

Working remotely also allows you to cut those long days at the office or shop, giving you more ‘me time’. Just because you have to pick up tasks when staff members call in sick doesn’t mean you need to work twice as many hours.

Despite the clear benefits, we’ve found that 48 per cent of SMEs don’t use cloud computing. Don’t risk getting swamped with work, get connected to the cloud – it could save you time and money and make your business processes much more efficient.

Preparation is key for small businesses in order to keep all plates spinning. No matter the time of year, be it National Sickie Day or not, employees are not invincible and it’s inevitable that there will be days when you are under-resourced

For the times such as National Sickie Day where your staff numbers are minimal and you have no back up, technology can act as a virtual employee and take on time-draining tasks. By freeing up time, you can concentrate on what’s most important – connecting with customers and growing the business.

By Raj Sond, GMAdviceA at First Data

Image: Shutterstock

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As the champion of UK enterprise for 20 years, Real Business is the most-read SME website dedicated to high-growth businesses and entrepreneurs. Through daily news, unique insight and invaluable guides we are an essential resource for thriving businesses.

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