1 in 10 Brits admit to pulling a sickie

You’ve probably heard the phrase “pulling a sickie”, but what does it actually mean?

Essentially, pulling a sickie is when an employee claims they are ill when they are not, just to stay at home and take an extra day off. 

Reasons for taking a sick day vary, with the reason often due to employees feeling stressed, down or mentally not themselves.

What may surprise you is it’s more common than you’d think.

‘National Sickie Day’ marks the most common day of the year to pull a sickie. An estimated 350,000 people call in sick on the first Monday in February every year, costing the UK workforce almost £4.5 million.

Who is the most likely to pull a sickie?

When it comes to pulling a sickie, where you live may influence your decision to take an extra day off.

According to research by business card printing specialists instantprint, a third (33%) of Belfast residents admit they regularly pull a sickie to bag an extra day off work. Southampton (19%) and London (14%) join them as the cities most likely to pull a sickie regularly.

Norwich, Sheffield and Edinburgh (all 50%) were the UK cities where workers were least likely to feign illness for a day off. Half of those surveyed in each city stated they “would never” pull a sickie.

How to reduce the chances of your employees pulling a sickie

If you’re wondering how to reduce the chances of employees calling in sick, there are a few simple ways to keep absenteeism to a minimum.

  1. Offer flexible working

Sometimes, for employees suffering with burnout, giving them the option to work from home and work flexible hours is enough to discourage people from pulling a sickie. Because they can work from the comfort of their own home, it becomes less daunting.

This combined with flexible hours makes employees far less likely to want to pull a sickie.

  • Empower your workforce & keep employees motivated

If managers trudge into the office and constantly seem miserable, how can they expect employees to feel motivated? It’s important to keep employees engaged and there are some easy ways to do so.

Try to implement a positive workplace culture where people want to be involved. You could consider some employee benefits or, if money’s tight, something as simple as progression opportunities.

  • Encourage staff to look after their physical and mental health

Physical and mental health go hand in hand, so it’s important to look after both. Consider encouraging employees to look after their mental and physical health by offering initiatives such as free yoga or meditation sessions.

  • Try introducing duvet days

Finally, it’s not a sickie if it’s technically a duvet day… right?

Rather than have employees lie about whether they are sick or just struggling mentally, duvet days let your staff take a personal day off without needing a reason – the fact they aren’t feeling up to it should be good enough.

Although it may seem humorous discussing the topic of pulling a sickie, it’s actually a very real issue for many companies and employees. With increased hours leading to job burnout and poor mental health, it’s important companies are proactive in encouraging strong mental and physical wellbeing.

By implementing measures such as flexible working, duvet days, employee engagement programmes and health initiatives, you can be well on your way to reducing the number of staff pulling a sickie.

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