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Staff Pulling Sickies? Here Are 5 Ways To Reduce Absenteeism In The Workplace

At some point in our working history, most of us have called in sick even though we weren’t physically ill. In a global absence survey it was found that workers in China (71%), India (62%) and Australia (58%) admitted to calling in sick even when they weren’t. In Hong Kong, 70 days a yearwere found to be lost due to absenteeism (not attending work) and presenteeism (attending work but in an unfocused and disengaged way that limits productivity).

In Singapore, presenteeism cost businesses $4.9 billion and 34.8 million lost working days, which equates to 9.7 working days lost per employee. This means that for up to 10 days a year your employee is present at work but not really "there" or being productive .

If you're running an organization, here are some initiatives you may want to consider to save your company time and money from absenteeism and presenteeism:

1. Let your employees take a “mental health day” as sick leave

Rather than your employees lying about being sick or being present at work but unfocused and disengaged, let your employees take a day off for their mental health. Last year, Madalyn Parker shared an email (which went viral) about her manager’s response to her taking time off to focus on her mental health.

"Thank you for sending emails like this. Every time you do, I use it as a reminder of the importance of using sick days for mental health,” read the response from her manager. Recognizing mental health as being as important as physical health is an important first step.

2. Give employees the flexibility to work from home

With technology advancement, many roles can be efficiently and effectively done whilst working from home. In a survey of 1,200 parents by Flexjobs, 84% said work flexibility is the most important factor they looked at when considering a job. Working from home enables employees to save time from commuting, freedom to set their own routine, and gives parents the flexibility to be around their children. This can reduce sick days being taken off unnecessarily for minor tasks like just running errands.

Richard Branson, billionaire and founder of Virgin group, said "I'm a great believer in people working from home. I encourage our staff if they want to work from home.”

3. No work emails or calls post office hours

The pitfall of technology advancement is that we are now connected 24 hours a day. Whilst there are many benefits to this, it can also be a huge negative because employees are no longer "logging" off from work and this can lead to overwork and burnout. In 2017, France made it the lawfor employee's “right to disconnect.” This meant that companies needed to make it clear when employees should not send or answer emails (e.g. weekends, off days, after hours.)

4. Move to a four-day work week

Working long hours over long periods can often cause employees to experience stress and eventually develop physical and psychological illnesses. In the UK 12.5 billion days are lost due to stress, depression or anxiety, and musculoskeletal disorders (i.e. injuries or pain in the musculoskeletal system such as the joints, ligaments, muscles and nerves). Pepetual Guardian, a company in New Zealand, have started trials with a four-day work week. Andrew Barnes, the company's founder told the Guardian, “To be honest, some of those activities [family and life commitments] were being done within office hours. If you give people the chance to be as good as they can be outside the office–because they have more time–then you are going to get a better performance in the office.”

5. Have regular mental health trainings

Giving employees the tools to equip themselves with taking care of their mental health can enable them to be more productive at work. If employees know how and what they need to do to build their resilience, combat stress and coping strategies to take care of their mental health they will be more empowered to take the right steps. In an Australian study, it was found that investing in mental health trainings for managers yielded a 10:1 return on investment as employees took less work-related sick leave.

*This article was first published in Forbes >> click here

Bhali Gill is a Psychologist (org), Coach, Trainer and Founder of Corporate Wellbeing. She coaches individuals and leaders to overcome the challenges they face at work and in life, to reach their personal and professional potential. Her work involves inner-transformation, and becoming more of who you are. She also works with organisations to improve their productivity through employee’s mental and emotional well-being, and self-empowerment programs. She can be contacted at

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