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Nick Riesel, from FreeOfficeFinder, shares findings from research about office worker sick days and what you might be able to do to reduce the problem.
Our company recently published a survey where we asked 10,000 office workers across the country whether or not they’ve lied about time off in the past year.
In total, around one-third of the 10,000 office workers we asked admitted to taking a sickie (fake sick day) in the past year. As well as this, we looked deeper into the results to see if there was anything we could advise businesses about avoiding their staff taking too many sickies in future.
Out of all the possible reasons the survey participants gave for taking a sickie, being hungover was by far the most popular option. I don’t think there is anything companies can do to avoid employees taking time off for hangovers from time to time, but there are things they can do to limit the damages associated.
Number one would be to make it easier for staff to work from home. If someone’s had a night out, the thought of them getting out of bed and making their way to the office might be too much - but if they have the option to work from home, they could be less inclined to call in sick.
As well as allowing staff to work from home on occasion, flex-time can also help in keeping sickie rates down. With technology and more flexible working hours, there is no reason why jobs have to be nine-to-five all the time.
Perhaps a more worrying finding was that the second most popular reason for people taking sickies was because they were dreading work. Where staff having hangovers isn’t something that reflects badly on the business (unless you are driving your employees to drink), having staff who genuinely dread attending work is. It’s really important that you have a HR or management team in place to ensure all staff are as happy as possible in their roles. Make sure everybody knows their job, and there’s no confusion about how the team works.
‘No reason’ was the next reason why people decided to take a sickie from work. The best way for businesses to try and avoid this from happening regularly is to try to make employees feel like valued members of the company and the team that they are a part of. If they feel genuinely like a well-respected part of the team, an employee would be less likely to call in sick for no reason and increase the burden on their fellow staff.
The next reason was that employees were tired. Unless your business is working its employees too often, it’s another reason that’s not reflective on the company. Everyone has the odd bad night’s sleep or sometimes stay up late to watch something on TV. This being a common reason why staff take sickies is another reason why companies should introduce some kind of flexible working system. I once worked at an office where everyone had to be in by 10:30, but there was the option to start from 8:00. This gave people who might have been tired an extra hour in bed which can make a world of difference.
The fifth most popular reason for employees taking sickies was holidays. If staff aren’t given their requested holidays or if they have to give a certain amount of notice then there’s the option of passing it off as a sick day instead. Making holiday requests more flexible is a good way to combat this issue. Also, having flex-time is another way that staff can build up the odd day here and there even if they have no more holiday time.
I don’t think it’s possible for sickies to be completely eradicated from the workplace. The best way for companies to improve the situation is to offer their employees some flexibility and ensure that they have more options than to just take the day off work, which costs the company, the team and themselves in the long run.