Monday, November 9, 2009

Give Healthy Employees Time Off

Reward your healthiest employees with extra time off.

Isn't it time that employers recognized and rewarded 100% attendance by staff?

A survey by consultants Mercer has discovered that the average employee took a half-day sick leave in one month, January 2008. That could be extrapolated to six days of sickness per year.

There's no such thing as the 'average' employee. Some staff are sick more often and some turn up to work every day without fail.

When I was in full-time employment I rarely took time off for sickness; I had years of 100% attendance. Some schools now reward pupils who turn up for classes every day; I'd like to suggest employers do the same thing.

Mercer discovered that on January 3rd and 4th 2008, a Thursday and Friday, nearly 5% of the workforce were off sick. There was no flu pandemic; would an extended New Year hang-over be a more likely explanation?

I remember feeling just a little frustrated that my colleagues claimed the occasional day in bed while I consistently made it to office. When I sensed a lurking sore throat I cherished the prospect of an enforced rest, but it never came to that.

At a time when employee benefits have been frozen or even cut back, granting someone an extra day off for a year of 100% attendance doesn't seem unreasonable.

Yes, there may be an invisible cost to your business. Or will there? Employee rewards can create motivation. It's quite possible that recognizing attendance will be a further boost to productivity. It's one of those things that's difficult to measure. But why don't you give it a try?

Link to the BBC news item about the Mercer survey.

Andrew Knowles is a freelance writer.

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