The CIPD has recently conducted a survey about sickness at work.
It concluded that the average amount of sickness a person takes every year has fallen from 8 to 7.4 days. It also concludes that the average cost of a period of absence has increased from £666 to £692.
This is a loss of 185 million days and £17.3 billion to the British economy.
Once again I find myself shaking my head in wonder at the CIPD and what they focus on. These headline figures are all well and good but it’s the underlying trends that really need to be analysed and thought through. In fact, the survey raises important questions about how people are managed every day in businesses and what makes them chuck sickies.
The most worrying thing I think that needs to be addressed is the fact that the majority of people take hardly any time off work sick, even when they feel awful. I didn’t have a day off sick in ten years and I know the person sitting next to me has had 3 days off in 23 years at work.
Like an old friend of mine said… it’s not about sickness, it’s about motivation. Many times he would say that his staff complained that they were tired or working too hard and then he’d see them out on a Friday night until 2am.
I used to say to my staff, if you could get yourself out of bed to catch your holiday flight then you could do the same to get to work.
Now, I’m not saying that all absences constitute fraud; that’s why I love the idea of Duvet Days which were introduced by an Enterprise Britain company called August.One Communications back in 1997. This is how they work. Everyone has those days when they just can’t face work: they have a cold, it’s February or they have a hangover…
Those niggling things that don’t really constitute calling in sick for but probably make you useless at work anyway.
A Duvet Day comes off the employee’s holiday entitlement. They have up to five flexible holiday days that they don’t have to put on the calendar and they can use when they feel like it. Of course, there are issues to be faced, such as managing workflow and peak work times but if introduced across the board, Duvet Days would save Enterprise Britain an awful lot of money.