Tricky ‘sickies’ focus the absent-minded

Absenteeism – it’s a struggle isn’t it?

I don’t mean my own or other HR directors’ rates of absence, which must be among the lowest recorded. My concern is the 11 days a year which, on average, our toilers take as ‘sickies’.

Of even more concern is that lowering this rate to a notional national average, concocted by the chief executive during my annual appraisal, is a key task. Where he got this figure of five days from I’m not sure. It’s likely it’s the sum of the days he’s had off sick since joining the company when Slade were the acceptable face of avant-garde rock music.

And it’s not looking good. Despite my best efforts – improved recording procedures, interviews on return, flexible working procedures – our half-year metrics show we’re above trend and could average 12 days this year.

But cometh the hour cometh the HR director’s plan: a New Year’s presenteeism bonus paid to staff who have taken less than three sick days in the previous calendar year.

I hear the government plans to give civil servants a 350 bonus if they don’t bunk off so I think that sets the bar for all of us.

It’ll be too high for the chief exec’s liking, but I’ve figured a way round that. The scheme will apply to all staff, but will be salary-linked to all those with board-level status. There will also be a far higher bonus for those staff – of all grades – that haven’t had a day off sick in the past 10 years.

I’ve checked the records, and there is only one person who qualifies: the chief executive.


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