With Blue Monday coming up on 16 January, morale is low across the UK. New research shows employees are more likely to pull a sickie in the first quarter (January to March) than any other time of year.
A survey conducted by workforce management software and services company Kronos reveals 37% of Brits predicted that they or a colleague will take unauthorised absences or fake a sickness within the first three months of the year. What’s more, they believe this will add up to a total of three to four days and 24% said it may stretch to five or six.
When asked why they’re likely to pull a sickie, 31% blamed the post-Christmas blues, highlighting the challenge for employers to maintain motivation and morale throughout January. Meanwhile, 32% said they feel more pressure to keep productivity levels up in the first quarter so their employer could start the year on a good note, causing them to feel stressed and therefore more likely to bunk off work for a mental health day.
Following on from other research released today by Optima Villas that says Brits think more holiday time would make them more productive, 21% of those surveyed by Kronos pull a sickie to take an extra day off without sacrificing their annual leave.
These unscheduled absences cause a heap of trouble for those employees who do turn up for work, with 59% saying the biggest problem is an increased workload to make up for their colleagues. It starts a vicious cycle, as 38% said an absent colleague increase their stress levels, which could make them more likely to call in sick themselves.
So how can employers combat the early year blues and keep staff motivated? Of those surveyed, 46% said a bigger paycheque would help, while 44% wanted a better work-life balance. 27% simply want to know their company cares about them.
Kronos says managers need to keep a close eye on their employees so they can spot the signs of disengagement and discontent, as these could be indicators of approaching fatigue that could lead to burn-out if ignored. If they notice that something is going wrong they need to take steps early to boost morale, such as scheduling in team-building activities, offering incentives, or allowing for flexible working arrangements.