For employers

What is the impact of National Sickie Day?

Is your office beginning to look more and more like a ghost town? Well, everyone’s heard of the standard Monday blues, and even the infamous Blue Monday in January. However, the latest absence figures have found that the first Monday of February is notorious for non-attendance at work, naming it as National Sickie Day.

National Sickie Day on 6th February is predicted to be the worst day of the year for absenteeism. According to The Employment Law Experts (ELAS), approximately 349,000 workers are predicted to call in sick and it is expected to cost the UK economy £4,450,846.40.

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But why is this?

Although many will actually be sick or using it as a ‘duvet day’, others will use it for job interviews after a New Year’s’ resolution to embark on a new career. Additionally, after a tough January and the first payday after Christmas, it could also be the case of a big night out on the Sunday, a crazy weekend or even just a slight cold. Either way, absent employees can cause stress for businesses – especially smaller organisations.

The CIPD’s Absence Management Survey found that a quarter of organisations (24%) say that non-genuine sickness is one of their top five most common causes of short-term absence, ranking higher than acute medical conditions and work-related injuries.

Perkbox’s own research has found that a disengaged employee costs up to £1,000 more than an engaged employee in absenteeism costs alone.

On average, public sector employees have over three days more absence each year than those in the private sector. The survey revealed that the median annual absence cost per full-time equivalent employee is £522. Perkbox’s own research has found that a disengaged employee costs up to £1,000 more than an engaged employee in absenteeism costs alone.

Dr Jill Miller, Research Adviser at the CIPD, commented: “Although National Sickie Day is a chance for us to chuckle at the bizarre reasons some people give for taking a day off work, there’s good reason not to be too flippant. Yes, some statistics suggest that the beginning of February sees an upsurge in employees downing tools in favour of duvets and TV, but many might be hiding much more significant issues.

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“For example, our research on employee absence finds that employers that offer flexible working are less likely to report illegitimate absence, which suggests that some employees might be pulling a sickie to give themselves the flexibility they need.

“Organisations are therefore going to end up facing the high costs of absence for employees taking what may be formally reported as non-genuine absence unless they think outside the rigid 9 to 5.”

The CIPD survey also found that two-fifths of organisations claim an increase in reported mental health problems (such as anxiety and depression) among employees in the past 12 months. However, this is just the number of reported problems and it’s likely there are more that are unreported. Dr Miller added: “As a nation we’re getting better talking about mental health but there’s still a long way to go and it relies on having an open organisation culture and a belief that you will be supported, whatever your situation.

“So, on Monday, instead of going into work and assuming every employee who doesn’t do the same is pulling a sickie, let it be a prompt to check whether you are providing enough flexibility for employees and cultivating a work environment where employees feel they are able to be themselves, and have a healthy work/life balance.”

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5 signs that your absent employees might not be sick
  1. Poor attitude: Employees who are no longer enthusiastic about projects or are lacking the drive to strive may not feel as motivated to come into work. They are often the ones that come in late and leave early.
  2. They are unsociable: Often colleagues do not always get along and there can be a case of workplace bullying. It’s essential to keep a lookout on how staff behave with each other because this could quickly become a reason for an employee’s absenteeism.
  3. Work-life balance: Staff that are overworked and not taking consistent breaks are more likely to be absent. Higher levels of stress impact this so it is essential to ensure staff take a break and create a balance.
  4. Changing lifestyles: More and more employees have family or caring responsibilities and they often have commitments towards them. If there is no room for flexible working or an understanding manager, they may feel pulling a sickie is the only way.
  5. Feeling of unsettlement: Employees who do not feel a part of the greater business or company will find a reason to not come into work because they lack enjoyment. These employees feel negative about the organisation and their day to day work.
- By Sonia Rach, editor and employee happiness evangelist at Perkbox.

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