On the back of mid-January’s Blue Monday (reportedly the most depressing day of the year), the first Monday in February is dubbed ‘National Sickie Day’. This is reportedly the day which sees the highest number of workers calling in sick. Last year an estimated 375,000 people rang in their absence with employers, costing the UK economy £34m in lost productivity (ELA, contributing towards the annual £10-12bn absence from work costs the UK economy every year (ACAS).
Is National Sickie Day a hangover from celebrating the end of Dry January? Is it to do with the weather? Are people just fed up? Stressed? Fancying a duvet day? Genuinely ill or otherwise indisposed?
Aside from the obvious effects on productivity, performance and therefore profits; the hidden costs of sickness absence include negative effects on morale and the team dynamic; missed deadlines and poor customer service; loss of reputation, which in turn puts the business at risk; the costs of temp cover and management time, and so on…
So what to do?
The obvious and far-reaching solution is to ensure employees are engaged, enabled and empowered:
- Engaged – the right people, doing the right things, exceeding expectations, enthusiastically
- Enabled – the means and opportunity to succeed in this
- Empowered – the guidance, freedom and support to make it happen
By bringing together and delivering on this triumvirate, results will ensue. However, this is an ongoing way of life and never ‘an initiative’ and requires a far-reaching, strategic approach that is championed from the very highest level and throughout the organisation. It’s also important to recognise the issue and talk about it, to think about flexible and home working, challenging the norms and finding new ways that will accommodate both the organisation and the people within it.
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