The Cost of the Sickie in Australian Workplaces

The Cost of the Sickie in Australian Workplaces


Welcome. I have decided it’s well past time that I get involved with social media and engage with you all on a more regular basis. It’s not like this is a totally new medium to me as I’ve been posting content around HRM, Management & Project Management for the College for some time now but, it has been intermittent and I’ve not really sunk my teeth into it.

I keep saying I haven’t got time but, of course that’s just an excuse, so from now on my plan is to share with you my comments on what’s happening in the world of HRM, Management and Project Management as well as feedback that I get from my students working in these fields and from colleagues and associates all over the world. As well as these informal posts I will continue to post more content specific posts on topics that I hope will continue to be of interest to you.

Today, with the temperature falling to below zero out where I live and just barely getting to double digits now, I find myself thinking about those dreaded ‘sickies’.

There’s nothing worse than sliding across the frosted grass in your heels, and scraping the ice off the car windscreen to battle the dreaded peak traffic and get to work on time; only to find a member of your team has decided to stay in bed and take a sickie instead of freezing their way to work as you’ve just done. And, to top it off, it’s often when an important report is due or when you’ve just received a whole heap of overnight orders that need attending too.

At this time of year sickies are pretty common yet the number of legitimate sickies is quite low. A survey done by Direct Health Services in 2011 found that the average employee takes 9.4 days of unplanned leave per year. Now, if we do the sums for the average employee, then this unplanned absence costs your company around $385 per day or $3,619 per employee per annum and, when you think that, across Australia on any given day one in forty employees are taking a sickie, well, it starts to become a significant issues for organisations. Dealing the cost of the sickie, not to mention your pain with one less team member to get the work done!

In fact if we compare these figures with the United Kingdom where it is way colder and darker than here in the winter time, Dun and Bradstreet tells us that Australian workers take a whopping 30% more sick leave than UK employees!

So then, why is it that Australian workers take so many sickies?

Well, you could argue that there’s nothing to it – the warm, cosy bed on a zero degree morning just wins out for some but, deep down, I wonder how right this is? Especially when there’s a pile of work waiting and you know you’ll let the rest of your team down.

Broadly speaking, I think that there are 3 types of sickness at work:

  1. Actually being sick ( too ill to come to work)
  2. Being sick of work (a motivational issue) and
  3. Being sick of working for you (a disengagement issue).

What do you think?

Maybe the next time you come to work to find a team member has taken a ‘sickie’ ask yourself which one of these 3 might apply. You might find your conclusions interesting in more ways than one!

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