Jacqui Frost

Dropping Like Flies

How do you cover staff sickness?

Posted on: 05/09/2013   By: Jacqui Frost

As small business owners we know that staff sickness can be crippling. Whether you have one full time member of staff or 4 part timers, your entire week can be thrown by a single day's illness. Have you ever been left thinking life was so much easier when you worked alone?

if a key staff member is off sick, what are you going to do?

if a key staff member is off sick, what are you going to do?

It's that horrid balance isn't it? Your business has gotten big enough to warrant more members of staff to help it run smoothly but everyone is working to full capacity making it very difficult to find cover for those essential tasks if one person goes off sick.

So what can you do? Usually you are faced with four options: -

  • Option 1 - Cancelling your appointments and providing cover yourself

    If you are a small firm then there is really no one better to cover than yourself particularly for short term sick, unless of course it has been 6 months or more since you last did the job yourself. And do you remember why you hired more staff? Often the reason is to offload those tasks you're not particularly good at or hate doing, can you really face doing them for a whole week?

    Your final consideration needs to be the knock on effect to the business as you reschedule your appointments. Although most business clients will understand that these things happen, it's difficult to forget that you were let down by this company, and does raise questions in the company's ability to cope with the work they are going to do for you.

  • Option 2 - Call someone in from their day off or holiday

    If you have more than one member of staff and they are not full timers then you may be able to call someone else in. But often it is quite short notice for them to rearrange their day and even find child care. You also have to bear in mind that with working time regulations you may have to rearrange that day off or holiday which may well leave you short staffed on another occasion.

  • Option 3 - Re-arrange other staff members

    Providing there are other staff members in you can share out the essential elements of the workload between them, though this can overload them and therefore is not a feasible option if you are looking to cover three or four weeks of it.

  • Option 4 - Outsource the work at short notice

    One of the ways to ease the workload is to transfer your phones to a telephone answering service. This will leave the staff in your office to focus on tasks that are not easily outsourced without worrying about answering the telephones. A good telephone answering service will also be able to book appointments for you and answer any frequently asked questions.

    If you are worried about your emails, website enquiries, your marketing plan or dealing with correspondence promptly then you could consider using a virtual assistant who can handle these enquiries for you. Often these services can be obtained in the short term and on an ad hoc basis.

Colin from The Garage at Blakesley recently had a spate of staff sickness and was relieved that they were able to divert their calls to us allowing them to handle all the enquiries at a pace they could manage without overly disrupting the business.

"The Office Genie are wonderful. In the last couple of weeks we have had a couple of members of staff off sick. They are true professionals, understanding our needs and making last minute changes for us as required."

So if you'd like to find out more about how The Office Genie can help you then please it would be a great idea to give me a call on +44 (0) 845 901 1803 or click here to send me an email. I look forward to helping!

Until next time ...


More about Jacqui Frost ...


I had a successful 20-year career as an office manager and personal assistant; however, my job was no longer focused on the customers and became all about the numbers. My customer-focused background began when I was 12 in my father's independent carpet showroom. I had a spell with Marks & Spencer before I moved into office-based jobs. I have worked as a training administrator, a PA and PA/office manager in a variety of industries from manufacturing to the IT education sector.

Meanwhile, my husband Ian, a successful Northampton based Master Decorator and owner of Rainbow Frost, was losing out on work due to missed phone calls. When he was busy, callers were getting his voicemail but weren't leaving messages. I knew how to fix that problem!

I quit my job and took on Ian as the first client of The Office Genie in November 2005. Word quickly spread with the second client coming on board just one week later. The majority of our clients since have come to us through word of mouth recommendations and networking referrals. Over the years, I have become well connected in Northampton and Milton Keynes.

Outside of work I enjoy swimming, roller skating, the theatre and my cats and dogs!


+44 (0) 1604 529170



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