Insights

A fresh take on ideas and trends in Human Capital

Buying Up Sick Days

People take sick days, which is kind of a brilliant thing really. The concept of a sick day is a tes

People take sick days, which is kind of a brilliant thing really. The concept of a sick day is a testament to civilised society, common sense and our sense of humanity. It means we understand people aren’t invulnerable and sometimes rest is the best option for them, even if the organisation takes a bit of a hit for the day. It’s a wise move for the organisation as well, for one you don’t want the rest of the workforce getting sick but on top of that how long are you going to stick with a job that literally cares more about their work output than your health? But what is sick? Sometimes a raspy cough justifies it (or heaven forbid a hangover) while some solider on with missing limbs. This hasn’t been ignored by psychologists and they are very interested in investigating what it is that people perceive about themselves and the work they’re in that makes them call in sick.

Resent research produced has found that how the individual identifies themselves within the team is key to whether they feel they can call in sick. Starting with the individual they will assess how they fit in within the team they operate in, whether they see themselves as an integral piece to the puzzle that is the project they’re working on. Furthermore if they are they will be considering whether they actually care enough about the people in the team that will suffer without their presence, this comes down to a commitment they have to the job and the role they have within the team. Other factors will be things like whether they feel like they fit into the culture of the company and whether they feel like they deserve the holiday. If everyone else has been having their days off an individual can feel like maybe it’s their ‘turn’.

This isn’t to say that a valid sick day shouldn’t be used, but in cases where it’s a 50/50 on whether they can go in or call in sick these factors will start to take hold to edge that scale one way or the other. Of course there are always two sides to a story, while focusing on the individual calling in sick, is the deterring factor the work or the people at the office?

When working at a bar if I was finishing at 1 AM I would know for certain that the manager would ask me to do close up that would take it to 4 AM because “what else do you have to do at that time?”. Effectively trying to pressure me while in the situation that would make it difficult to say no. If I were feeling a bit funny, or even too tired, you’re too right I’d phone in sick because that exact kind of behaviour. With the US losing $200 Billion in their economy per year and other developed countries following similar trends it seems like time to take action to stop any cause of unnecessary absence.

So really it comes down to the team, the individual needs to feel like they’re a key part as well as a valued team member if they want to go that extra mile. Even the most eager of us won’t be able to last if they’re met with constant resistance and will eventually buckle. If you want the flowers to grow strong the first thing you need to do is get the soil conditions in right. In the same way a team culture and the work environment must be welcoming and a right fit to allow the employees to develop to their potential.

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