Monday, February 19, 2018
Business

Time off can be costly

The annual sick season is upon us.

The first signs of fall each year inaugurate the cold and flu season — along with higher absence rates at work and school.

But studies and surveys make it clear that illness gets two-thirds of the blame for "sick" days. One-third of the reasons are all over the map.

Take the employee who couldn't come to work because of a toe stuck in a faucet. Or the employee who was upset after watching The Hunger Games movie. Or the one whose hair turned orange in a home dye job.

All three were real-life examples shared in a recent CareerBuilder survey in which human resource managers were asked for unusual absence excuses they'd heard.

The excuses may be funny, but business managers and productivity experts aren't laughing.

American workers take about 2.8 million days of unplanned absences a year, not counting planned vacation days, holidays or personal days. And that costs billions of dollars in lost productivity.

A 2010 Mercer/Marsh report on the financial effect of employee absences said the cost of unplanned time off amounted to 5.8 percent of total payroll costs.

As a percentage, that's not a big figure. But, the report noted, "the total costs for planned absences, such as vacations and holidays, average an equivalent of 26 percent of base payroll."

In other words, one-fourth of employers' payroll expenses cover work time when employees aren't at work.

That helps explain why some employers check up on workers who call in sick. According to a Harris Interactive survey taken in August and September, nearly one-third of employers who responded said they usually called the employee at home later in the day or required a doctor's note to verify that the person was at home or was truly sick.

About one in five of the employers surveyed said they'd asked other employees to call "a suspected faker," and about one in seven said they'd gone so far as to drive by a suspected faker's home.

The psychological jury is out, though, as to whether faked sick days are completely bad. "Mental health days" get credence from counselors who see the toll of stressful workplaces.

According to Sean Sullivan, a co-founder of the Institute for Health and Productivity Management, there's a "presenteeism" problem when workers come to work but aren't fully functioning because of physical, emotional or other time-draining distractions.

Organizations aren't getting value out of workers who show up but aren't really working. So in those cases, it may not make much difference if an employee calls in sick or shows up.

Workplaces with excessive unplanned absences may need to reassess their corporate culture.

Connie Russell, a Kansas City, Mo., leadership coach and counselor, said managers "need to make sure that employees understand how their work contributes to the overall good and that their contributions are valued."

When that communication is missing, workers are more likely to not know — or not care — that it costs their organizations when they don't show up.

"I'm also hearing that people are experiencing burnout, that it's hard to work in environments of hyper change," Russell said, noting another reason why otherwise good workers might take unplanned days off.

The new CareerBuilder survey found that next to being sick, the most common reason workers call in sick is because they "don't feel like going to work." One-third of the respondents admitted that reason.

Nearly one-third said they called in sick simply because they "felt like they needed to relax." Other excuses included catching up on sleep or running errands.

All of those reasons are likely to be used more frequently as the year winds down. December ranks as the most popular month to call in sick.

Comments
Sting nets arrests of more than 20 ‘brazen’ unlicensed contractors in Pinellas

Sting nets arrests of more than 20 ‘brazen’ unlicensed contractors in Pinellas

DUNEDIN –– The unlicensed contractors answered calls to perform electrical, plumbing and other types of work at a home since Saturday. But the workers had no idea that Pinellas County Sheriff’s deputies posed as homeowners.Since Saturday, deputies ar...
Updated: 24 minutes ago
Report: Winn-Dixie parent company could close 200 stores

Report: Winn-Dixie parent company could close 200 stores

Bi-Lo LLC, a subsidiary of the same Jacksonville company that owns Winn-Dixie, could file for bankruptcy as soon as next month, according to a Bloomberg report.Parent company Southeastern Grocer is planning to shut down nearly 200 stores either befor...
Updated: 1 hour ago
New bus routes, times to start on Sunday in Hillsborough

New bus routes, times to start on Sunday in Hillsborough

TAMPA — More than a dozen bus routes in Hillsborough County will have new times, paths and stops starting Sunday. The changes come almost four months after the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority rolled out an entirely new bus network, scrap...
Updated: 1 hour ago
The small gun shop that sold the weapon to the alleged high school shooter ‘closes indefinitely.’

The small gun shop that sold the weapon to the alleged high school shooter ‘closes indefinitely.’

The aftermath of the horrific mass shooting at Florida’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School has led to the closure of one small business.According to the Miami Herald, the owners of Sunrise Tactical Supply, the Coral Springs, Florida shop that auth...
Updated: 3 hours ago
St. Petersburg set to rename main library after President Obama

St. Petersburg set to rename main library after President Obama

ST. PETERSBURG — Mayor Rick Kriseman is set to announce that the city’s main library will be renamed after former President Barack Obama.The announcement that the facility will be renamed after the nation’s first African-American president has been t...
Updated: 3 hours ago
On deck in Rays ballpark quest: Tampa Bay’s business community

On deck in Rays ballpark quest: Tampa Bay’s business community

TAMPA — Columbia Restaurant owner Richard Gonzmart says he’s ready to put his checkbook where his heart is when it comes to supporting a Tampa Bay Rays move to Ybor City.So is the investment fund for the founding family of Ashley Furniture. So, it ap...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Next phase for the Tampa Armature Works: co-working office space

Next phase for the Tampa Armature Works: co-working office space

TAMPA — The mixed-use rebirth of the old Tampa Armature Works warehouse is proceeding in stages. First up: last month’s debut of the new ballroom, followed closely by the opening of more than a dozen vendors in the Heights Public Market food hall.YEA...
Published: 02/19/18

Open-mic night at Pilars is a hot spot for Disney talent

WINTER GARDEN — At the end of the day, when the tourists are gone, Disney performers head out to their favorite spot to keep on singing after their shifts are over. Every Thursday, they perform at open-mic night at Pilars, a Winter Garden martini bar...
Published: 02/18/18
Here’s how to separate the fund raisers from frauds among gofundme pages

Here’s how to separate the fund raisers from frauds among gofundme pages

Gofundme.com pages proliferated almost as soon as cops took Nikolas Cruz into custody after Wednesday’s 17-death massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. Donors must parse the funding pages from the fraudulent.Read More: 17 dead,...
Published: 02/18/18
Suffolk tops off Manor Riverwalk project

Suffolk tops off Manor Riverwalk project

Building contractor Suffolk topped off the north tower of its Manor Riverwalk project on Friday.The luxury rental community will replace the old Tampa Tribune building at 202 S Parker Street. Once complete, the project will include an eight-story wat...
Published: 02/16/18
Updated: 02/18/18