On the first day of Christmas, my lovely colleague came to work when they had a bad case of the flu.
By the second day of Christmas, despite panic-eating echinacea, I had managed to catch it too.
On the third day of Christmas, I struggled in and annoyed everyone else with my sneezing all day.
On the fourth day of Christmas, my Manager took me aside and said it was busy but was I really well enough to be there?
On the fifth day of Christmas, I started to feel worse but I was needed at work as everyone else had it now too.
On the sixth day of Christmas, I went in again but had to cancel all my meetings and kept falling asleep.
On the seventh day of Christmas, I threw the towel in and ended up in bed for the next 3 weeks.
On the eighth day of Christmas, an e-mail went out confirming that our Christmas party was off because of the flu.
On the ninth day of Christmas, I had to call the agency to send over replacement staff.
On the tenth day of Christmas, I had to authorise that all non-emergency leave be cancelled for the start of the New Year.
On the eleventh day of Christmas, I started to feel ok but it was the first public holiday.
On the twelfth day of Christmas, I decided enough was enough and reviewed our absence policy.
The 2016 CIPD Absence Management Survey in partnership with simplyhealth has been published recently. It highlights that overall, UK absence levels have come down on average, from 6.9 to 6.3 days (5.2 in the private sector) but that almost three-quarters of employers surveyed reported an emerging problem with presenteeism.
Coming into work when ill has ironically become an absence management issue in itself. By becoming more focussed upon identifying absence triggers and actively managing attendance, we may inadvertently have encouraged people who are not well enough to work productively for us to show up anyway.
Whilst we should still continue to promote well-being initiatives, highlight absence triggers and take appropriate action where required, we may also wish to ensure that everyone who comes to work is well enough to be there. Where job roles allow people to work from home and not spread their germs, this could also provide a sensible middle-ground.
The New Year offers us all the opportunity to take a balanced approach. Merry Christmas and a healthy New Year to you all!
If you have any questions on any of the issues raised in the above article, please contact Wendy Meiklejohn.