Sickie and duvet days lead to ‘vicious cycle’ of stress and absenteeism

Sickies and duvet days lead to vicious cycle of stress and absenteeismEmployees are more likely to pull a sickie in the first quarter (January to March) than any other time of year, causing increased stress for those who have to cover for their absent colleagues, a new survey claims. The research, which was conducted by Kronos found that over a third (37 percent) of respondents predicted that that they or a colleague would take unauthorised absences or fake a sickness within the first three months of the year. What’s more, they believe this will add up to a total of three to four days and 24 percent said it may stretch to five or six. When asked why they’re likely to pull a sickie, 31 percent blamed the post-Christmas blues, highlighting the challenge for employers to maintain motivation and morale throughout January. Meanwhile, 32 percent said they feel more pressure to keep productivity levels up in the first quarter so their employer could start the year on a good note, causing them to feel stressed and therefore more likely to bunk off work for a mental health day.

Following on from recent research released by Optima Villas that says Brits think more holiday time would make them more productive, 21 percent of those surveyed by Kronos pull a sickie to take an extra day off without sacrificing their annual leave.

These unscheduled absences cause a heap of trouble for those employees who do turn up for work, with 59 percent saying the biggest problem is an increased workload to make up for their colleagues. It starts a vicious cycle, as 38 percent said an absent colleague increase their stress levels, which could make them more likely to call in sick themselves.

So how can employers combat the early year blues and keep staff motivated? Of those surveyed, 46 percent said a bigger paycheque would help, while 44 percent wanted a better work-life balance. 27 percent simply want to know their company cares about them.

The researchers say managers need to keep a close eye on their employees so they can spot the signs of disengagement and discontent, as these could be indicators of approaching fatigue that could lead to burn-out if ignored. If they notice that something is going wrong they need to take steps early to boost morale, such as scheduling in team-building activities, offering incentives, or allowing for flexible working arrangements.

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