Partying too hard, not enough leave for that important family event, too embarrassed to show up late – there are many reasons people “pull a sickie” to get a day off work, and whilst you’d like to think most of the sick calls are genuine, it’s probable that a lot of them are not.
Now unless you’re going to hire sickness police (they don’t really exist, but you know what I mean) or private detectives to track your employees’ every move, and until you’ve got direct evidence, you will have to accept that they are genuinely sick
According to some, today (February 6th 2017) is National Sickie Day but others have calculated days in November and December to be the more sickness-prone, partly because of winter-related illnesses. Regardless of which day of the month it is, you’re probably hoping none of your staff would dream of feigning illness to take a day off work.
But if they are, then maybe it’s something you’re doing wrong and it’s not them, but you.
A recent survey into employee absence 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. Dr Jill Miller, is Research Adviser at the CIPD, and says:
“The number of organisations seeing an increase in reported mental health problems among employees has remained at a worrying level over the last few years. And this is just the number of reported problems – it’s likely that some unexplained absence may be due to mental health issues that people may not feel comfortable telling their employer about. 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 what can you do?
- Flexible working – are you providing enough flexibility for employees? Giving them the option to work from home occasionally or to start and finish at staggered times might help those with kids or other home pressures.
- Cultivating a work environment where employees feel they are able to be themselves, and have a healthy work/life balance. This will allow them to give their best at work.
- Spending time understanding the demands on your workforce and making it possible for them to adjust their work in a way that fits both their needs and the needs of the business. This will pay dividends in the long run when your employees are happy, healthy, loyal and productive.
- Communicate – talk to your staff to find out what is really going on if you suspect the sick days they are taking aren’t genuine. I don’t mean asking them for a doctor’s note to make them prove it but maybe having a chat with over a coffee, and preferably out of the office. You’ll surprised just how much they will open up to and it may or may not be work-related.
The mental health charity Mind have got lots of tips and advice on how to help your staff get through work if they are struggling. Sometimes all it can take is something as little as getting to know your employees and just asking them if they’re OK. It won’t make you any less of a boss or a manager and might actually reduce the amount of non-genuine sick days people are taking off.