Page Updated on February 10, 2023

This training activity is free for you to use and is ideal if you are providing training workshops for managers or team leaders.

This specific activity helps participants to understand the thought process behind staff and employee sickness and absences.

Management training activity

Activity Time-frame

10 minutes is an ideal length for this activity.

This, in essence, is a short activity for participants. It is designed to give them time to think about if and when an employee can be encouraged to come back to work and what things they need to consider.

(This activity relates to the idea of Absenteeism vs Presenteeism and is a part of the Absence Management Training materials).

Starting the Activity

Ask participants to form groups of 3 or 4 people.

Then allocate one or two items on the list (from the PowerPoint slide image below) per group. If you need to, you can create extra examples for participants to use.

Next, ask each group to discuss and decide if and under what circumstances the employees in their examples should be allowed to come back to work.

Give groups 5 minutes for the activity.

Employee sickness assessment task
Assessing employee sickness activity PowerPoint from the Absence Management Training

Group Discussion

After the 5 minutes are up, start a discussion with the whole class for each group to share their ideas with the rest of the class.

Allocate about 5 minutes for this (see below for some ideas on how to deal with each case).]

If you are teaching online

Use breakout rooms to separate participants into groups.

Participants can write down their ideas by using an online whiteboard or a chat.

Once the group activity is over, bring the participants back to the main room for the whole class discussion.]

Group Feedback for Each Workplace Sickness Scenario

Below are some ideas on how to deal with each case.

Also, make it clear to participants that these are just examples and, in real life, they will need to assess each case carefully and consult with a medical professional and/or the occupational therapy department.

1. Somebody who has flu

If somebody has flu, the best bet is to stay at home and rest, particularly if they have a high temperature. Also, you want to avoid an employee infecting others.

2. An office worker with a cold

It is best if they stay at home, to avoid infecting others. If they are not feeling too bad and their company policy allows for it, they could work from home.

3. A lorry driver with a pollen allergy

If the allergy is bad, it could affect their ability to concentrate while they drive. Also, the medication they take might make them feel drowsy. So, it is better if they are off from work until the allergy is gone.

For an office worker, it might be safe to work, but not for anyone whose job involves driving or operating heavy machinery.

4. Somebody with knee arthritis

If they are doing a type of sedentary job, they can work.

However, provide support, such as:

  • making sure that the floor where they work is accessible with a lift or allowing them to work on the ground floor
  • provide car parking near the entrance of the building so they do not need to walk long distances
  • allow time off for medical appointments
  • offer them the option to work from home, at least some of the time, etc.

If their role involves doing heavy physical work, such as lifting weights, see if you can give them a less physically demanding role, for someone with arthritis.

5. An office worker with a broken leg

They can work once dismissed from the hospital, but offer them support similar to the support offered to the office worker with knee arthritis.

6. Somebody suffering from stress

Stress, like other mental issues, is often a hidden problem. Employees with mental health issues do not tend to ask for help or for time off for fear of stigma and the fact that their illness might not be taken seriously.

So, they tend to come to work anyway, until they cannot take it any longer.

So, managers need to keep an eye out for symptoms of mental distress in their staff.

If something seems wrong, there are ways to delicately approach the topic and offer support (for example, flexible working and time off for counseling).

Sometimes it is necessary for an employee to be off, but it is a good idea to allow them back whenever possible (with support) so they do not feel isolated (always liaise with a specialist though).

7. A parking enforcement officer with a sprained ankle.

This type of job requires a lot of walking and standing around, so it is not realistic for them to work unless they can be temporarily given an office-based role.

Managing work absense for employees
>> See the Absence management materials if you want the full PowerPoint and PDFs.
Dr Paul Symonds