Blue Monday has sailed past without a perceptible collapse in morale, Bounce Back Monday saw a few extra people glumly catching trains to the office – are there any other Mondays we must bravely endure as we attempt to prod life into UK plc?
I’m afraid there is. On 7 February it’s National Sickie Day – “under the weather” Monday if you will. Now after two years of pandemic one would have thought that every day was essentially National Sickie Day, it seems unnecessary to allocate a day.
HR software company Personio was the first company to bring this significant date to Personnel Today’s attention this year and a sense of real enthusiasm for feeling a bit under the weather comes through on its home page, where it states, with unmistakable relish: “Let’s be honest, calculating absence entitlements isn’t fun but it has to be done.”
Ben Kiziltug, head of northern Europe at Personio, points out that “the blurring of boundaries between home and work and increased time online has created a new problem of digital presenteeism, as busy employees stay logged on at home while sick, instead of switching off and recovering.
“But this could come at a cost for businesses during a talent crisis. Recent research from Personio found that 22% of employees say burnout is one of the top factors that negatively impacts their productivity, and a further 23% state that a worsening work/life balance would encourage them to look for a new job.”
Jamie Mackenzie, director at employee benefits firm Sodexo Engage, agrees. He says: “Research by Vitality found that almost half (45%) of UK employees have suffered from presenteeism, contributing to a £92bn productivity loss.”
Sickness and burnout
This happens “because of the consequences employees fear calling in sick might have, like attracting a negative image, risk to job security and reduced pay.”
Having absorbed this, not only did this present and correct Personnel Today writer begin to feel a little queasy but he started checking the Winter Olympics TV schedules for Monday. Having not been ill for the entire past three years surely it would be perfectly legit to take a sickie on National Sickie Day?
But there’s a catch. 7 February is a myth. It’s not the day when most people are ill at all. Bright HR informs us that this day is actually 12 December. And this year that falls on a Monday (more than 25% sickness absences are logged on Monday Bright HR tells us). Its research reveals that the first Monday in February is only 14th on the list of popular sick days. Talking of the 14th, the imminent Valentine’s Day falls on a Monday. I suspect there definitely will be more than love in the air that day.
Job applications with a chance of meatballs
Perhaps the widespread adoption of vegetarian meatballs in our diets will reduce absenteeism. This will certainly be IKEA’s hope, though not its primary aim, with a stunning new candidate experience gambit. The company is inviting candidates to taste its new plant-based 3D printed Swedish meatballs, as part of the job interview experience. Leaving “3D printed” aside for a moment, the furniture giant introduces the policy with these words: “The importance of building a diverse and sustainable workforce with a high level of digital skills is of paramount importance for any organisation hoping to improve its competitive edge and secure long-term growth.” One wouldn’t expect the word “meatball” to feature in that strategy quite so prominently but there it is.
The pan-European recruitment drive is called Taste the Future and IKEA hopes to “entice a diverse range of digital professionals, with skills in data science, software development, cybersecurity and engineering, through a unique job interview process, using the latest innovations in 3D printing to promote healthier and more sustainable eating.” OK?
Hopefully the thought of a 3D-printed meatball during a job interview does not make you feel ill enough to take this Monday off.