Benefits and Compensation, Talent

Survey Finds More Employees Sick … of Work

Are more workers feeling stressed, disengaged or disillusioned with their jobs? Or are they simply trying to juggle the various aspects of their busy lives?

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An increased number of workers have called in sick in the last 12 months when they weren’t sick, according to an annual survey conducted by CareerBuilder, a provider of human capital solutions. This year’s survey finds 40 percent of workers have called in sick in the last 12 months when they weren’t, compared to 35 percent in 2016 and 38 percent in 2015.

Not Enough Time

While they may not necessarily be sick, 30 percent of workers who have called in sick cite having a doctor’s appointment as the top reason to take a sick day, followed by just didn’t feel like going to work (23 percent), needing to relax (20 percent), and needing to catch up on sleep (15 percent). Running errands (14 percent), catching up on housework (8 percent), and plans with family and friends (8 percent) also appear on the list.
The survey was conducted online by Harris Poll from August 16 to September 15, 2017 and includes a representative sample of 2,257 full-time hiring managers and human resource professionals and 3,697 full-time workers across industries and company sizes in the U.S. private sector.
“Life is busy – and occasionally taking time off is necessary in order to show up to work mentally and physically prepared to have a positive impact on productivity,” says Rosemary Haefner, CHRO of CareerBuilder.
Even so, she cautions employees about deceptive behavior.
“Your reputation is very important and you should always be upfront and honest with your boss about the time you need off. Outlandish excuses for calling off work can raise red flags and can lead to trust issues, so avoid them at all costs,” says Haefner.

Programs an Issue

Paid time off (PTO) programs may be a factor in the increased use of sick days.
Nearly three in five workers who have a paid time off program (28 percent) say they feel obligated to make up an excuse for taking a day off, even though the majority of employees (54 percent) work for companies with a paid time off (PTO) program which rolls sick, vacation, and personal days together.

Finding an Excuse

And employees do come up with excuses.
HR professionals and hiring managers were asked to share the most dubious excuses workers have given for calling in sick. Among the excuses they report hearing:

  • A bear was in employee’s yard and they were afraid to come out.
  • Employee’s phone exploded and it hurt their hand.
  • Employee ate a toothpick in his food at restaurant.
  • Employee broke his arm wrestling a female bodybuilder.
  • Employee called in “fat” because uniform didn’t fit.
  • Dog swallowed employee’s car keys so she was waiting until it came out.
  • Employee left his clothes at the laundry mat.
  • Employee did not have enough gas to get to work.
  • Employee had to reschedule a new manicure because some of their artificial nails fell off.
  • Employee was not sure how the solar eclipse would affect him so it would be safer to stay at home.

Sick at Work

The survey also finds that more than a third of workers (37 percent) go to work when they are under the weather so they can save their sick days for when they are feeling well.
Meanwhile, 58 percent say they come into work when they’re sick because otherwise the work won’t get done, and 48 percent come into work because they can’t afford to miss a day of pay.