It is an unfortunate fact but most of us will be faced with sickness and illness in our lives.

For some it may be as simple as a sickness bug but for others it may be much more serious than that. It is important therefore that as a business owner we prepare and plan for circumstances where a member of staff may be absent for a long period of time.

Employees are without doubt a highly valued asset to any business, they are the foundation on which we run and are a building block in the wider organisation. Taking just one of these away can cause the whole structure to become unstable.

As an owner or manager, the first consideration to be taken in to account is the welfare of the employee who is being affected by the absence. However, we often forget about the remaining staff who are left to feel the effects of an increased workload.

An expectation to take on the extra work is felt by many members of staff and sadly this sometimes has an adverse effect on moral and productivity;

– Staff can become overwhelmed by the amount of work and end up paper pushing trying to prioritise what needs to be done first and output sees a downturn.

– Staff moral can become damaged by feeling overworked, a lack of support and undervalued.

– Staff absent levels increase due to stress.

An option for many businesses is to use temps. However, with technology better than ever, a new wave of freelancers have provided an alternative. Virtual PAs work remotely on a flexible ad-hoc basis making them a cost effective and efficient solution.

– Pay for only the hours you need. More traditional solutions mean you end up paying for someone to attend at your business premises for an 8 hour day. VAs charge on an hourly basis and many don’t have a minimum.

– VAs are experienced personal assistants. Although you cannot expect a VA to know every system or software package out there, they are familiar with using databases and case management, which means they are likely to pick your systems and way of working up quickly, resulting in minimal training.

– They are not going to disappear. Unlike a VA who does this as their full time job, many temps are looking for full time roles and take temporary positions during their search for a permanent job, meaning you could lose them at any point during the assignment.

– A Virtual Assistant is much more than a gap fill. If you build a strong relationship with a VA they will become an extension to your business and will always be available for your use. Overtime they will get to know your business and its procedures meaning you can use them for all absences whether planned or not.

– The majority of VAs work more than the 9-5 working day. Should you need them to, many VAs are happy to work out of office hours, and even better than that, don’t usually charge any more than their standard rate for it resulting in no overtime expenses.

I’m sure we’ve all been guilty of being reactive to situations which can result in decisions being made on desperation rather than calculated reasoning, but by being proactive and having a plan in place for the what if moments, a business can save thousands of pounds a year and ensure it is fulfilling its duties as an employer.