A new survey is telling us what we already know to be true – people all around the world fake sick days. The survey, conducted by Harris Interactive for Kronos Incorporated, found that about half of all Americans have taken a fake sick day. That’s about on par with countries including Canada and Australia. A whopping 71 percent of Chinese workers also admit to calling in sick when they weren’t.
Should employers just accept it as normal human behaviour and simply build the loss of productivity into the cost of doing business? We chose a different approach at Text 100 over a decade ago – we gave employees permission to take a fake sick day. Our Duvet Day program allows employees in many of our countries two unscheduled paid days off per year for those days when you’d rather pull the duvet over your head and go back to sleep rather than face work.
We all have days when we would rather not go into work – maybe you’ve simply been working too long and hard or perhaps you went a little wild last night and it is in everyone’s interest for you to stay at home and recover. Our philosophy was simple; our people work and play hard. By factoring in extra human downtime we offer a chance for employees to recharge and value life outside of work – and we keep employees engaged and communicating transparently with one another.
Duvet days continue to be popular with employees – perhaps because they map to a real human need within the workforce – permission to take time out as a way of staying engaged with the business. Not all staff take their duvet days though and it does require discretion to ensure clients are not inconvenienced. Still, the policy offers an interesting alternative to the more deceptive fake sick days.
Flexible work policies that better enable employees to balance their working and personal lives are becoming accepted as the norm in a society that is struggling to find balance amidst increased work pressures. In these volatile economic times, smart employers will prioritize employee engagement by empowering employees to find more satisfaction and fulfillment in what they do. I say worry more about what employees do when they front up for work, rather than what they do on the odd cheeky sick day.