As a business owner or director, you don’t have time for sick leave or illness, right? Coughs and colds won’t hold you back in pursuit of your goal, you are made of tougher stuff than that. In fact, I can imagine you are probably the type of person that has uttered the words...
‘I don’t have time to be ill’.
It’s true. In the hectic daily life of being either self-employed or running your own recruitment business, there are not enough hours in the day as it is. If you have to sacrifice a few days through illness, it’s just not part of your plan. However, like it or not, sickness catches up with us all in the end and having a back-up plan is crucial.
I’m not a good patient. In fact, I got the idea for this blog as I was laid up in bed with a chest infection and had to confess to the lovely gang at Boomerang Funding that I was going to miss their deadline by a couple of days (sorry guys!) However, I knew that I needed some time out to recover and that even if I did ‘show up’ in the office I wouldn’t have been anywhere near my best. So, what do you do when your body, or mind for that matter, goes into shutdown? And how do you cope if it’s just you? Here are my top tips:
- Clear your diary – check your calendar for the coming few days, cancel any non-urgent meetings and say you’ll rearrange when you are back on form. If you have capable team members then delegate what you can. If you genuinely have a ground breaking, important meeting that you don’t want to cancel, clear as much as you can and conserve your energy for it.
- Let people know asap that you’re going off the radar – you don’t need to feel guilty about being ill. It genuinely happens to us all and if not us, someone close to us who we are responsible for. Email your team, colleagues or anyone that needs to know you’re going to be out of action for a few days as soon as you can. Don’t be overly apologetic or go into gory detail about your illness. A simple ‘I’ve come down with food poisoning so need a few days to recover, I’ll mostly be offline during this time’ is fine. Everyone knows where they stand and if there is anything urgent, they can ask you about it straightaway and have it done and dusted.
- Support network – I don’t necessarily mean people to bring you hot soup here or to mop your brow with a cold flannel (although that would be nice). However, having capable people around you is essential to knowing you can take time out, whether that’s planned or not. Call on them for support. It’s also a great test to see who steps up to the mark. If you work for yourself, think about a virtual assistant who can answer your calls or manage your diary. Many of these can be secured on a pay-as-you-go rate or for specific projects (like holiday or sickness cover), but investigate them sooner rather than later.
- Critical illness cover – this is an extreme point and one I hope none of us need but if your business really is just you then it’s important to have the right protection for your income. Speak to your insurance provider about what cover is appropriate and what happens if you or a loved one needs care.
- Be realistic and be kind to yourself – this final point is crucial. A business owners or leaders, so much depends on us but we don’t help by adding even more pressure to ourselves to constantly deliver. You simply cannot sustain a 24/7 working lifestyle. Taking some time out to recharge your batteries, getting a bit of space from the day to day, it’s all essential for ensuring you can actually give your best to your clients when you are in the room.
You might genuinely be of the mindset that sickness is for the weak but beware those thoughts, it’s when the flu, norovirus, shingles…. Whatever ailment, creeps up and knocks you sideways that it has the biggest impact. Just have some plans in place to deal with it and know that actually, the world won’t stop turning if you take a couple of days out.
Amanda Davies is Managing Director of ISV Software, supplier of online skills testing and training. Our products are used by recruiters and HR managers in SME’s through to global businesses, to help identify the right candidates for the right roles. Like Boomerang, ISV is a supplier to The Employment Agents Movement (TEAM), working with the member base to meet the needs of independent recruitment companies.