5 sick day excuses that could impact your business

The ‘sickie’ is looking healthier than ever but high absentee rates could be costing your business dearly. We all fall sick from time to time – that’s a given. But industry research shows absenteeism costs the Australian economy around $33 billion annually in payroll and lost productivity costs. Most employers plan for a certain level of absenteeism. The problem area lies with employees who ‘pull a sickie’ more often than not, phoning in sick when they’re perfectly capable of coming to work. These sickie-prone employees typically dish up some far-fetched excuses – especially when the sick leave tally starts to mount. The five poorest sick leave excuses reported by Robert Half clients include:

  • “My dog ate my shoes”
  • "I’ve accidentally locked myself in the house"
  • “I thought it was a public holiday"
  • "I missed getting off at the right train station”
  • "My car handbrake broke and it rolled down the hill into a stop sign”

Reading these excuses, they all sound pretty funny. However, it’s not such a laughing matter when you’re the employer footing the bill for unnecessary sick leave. When you hire a new employee, the very least you expect is that they’ll show up for work and put in a decent effort. It’s a fair trade for a regular wage. But sometimes, even with the best of efforts, employers make poor recruitment choices.

The danger of hiring staff who take too many ‘sickies’

Unmotivated employees, who repeatedly avoid coming in to work, can have a seriously negative impact on a business in terms of lost productivity and reduced morale – and that’s not even considering the direct cost of paid sick leave.

Hiring the right staff

The 2015 Robert Half Salary Guide found 65% of Human Resources (HR) executives in Australia have hired an employee whose performance didn’t meet expectations. With 10 per cent of employee turnover attributed to poor hiring decisions – a watertight recruitment process is a good investment. The key to avoiding unnecessary staff absentee costs is to recruit reliable employees who have a strong work ethos and take pride in their job. These are not always easy traits to identify during the interview process, when candidates are actively trying to promote themselves. Checking past job references can be time-consuming but it could pay dividends if a former employer spills the beans on a candidate’s repeat history of over-the-top absenteeism.

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