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5 Ways to Stop Your Employees Pulling a Sickie

Isidora Markovic
Isidora Markovic

Two in five adults would pretend to be sick to get the day off work, and today - ‘National Sickie Day’ - marks the most common day of the year to ‘pull a sickie’.

An estimated 350,000 people call in sick on the first Monday in February every year, costing the UK workforce £4,450,846.

So how can you ensure your workplace is the kind of environment where employees feel positive about coming into work instead of feigning illness?

Here are five suggestions for boosting motivation and tackling absenteeism in your workplace.

1. Offer flexible working

In today's modern workforce, classic 9-5 office-based work is slowly giving way to an increase in remote working and flexi-hours. (We talk about this and our other predictions for the way work will evolve in the 2020s here).

At the moment, 50% of the global workforce works remotely at least part of the time. The world of work and employee expectation are changing, and employers must keep up.image-Jan-12-2022-08-35-53-30-AM

The average London commute clocks in at 45 minutes. In total that’s nearly 1.5 hours of time spent commuting, daily. If you consider the juggling act of long commutes with trying to balance commitments at home, the benefits of flexible working on employee happiness are clear.

Not only does it make a huge difference to work-life balance, it also removes any office distractions, and shows you trust your employees to have their performance measured on their output.

2. Encourage staff to look after their physical health

At eduMe, we give all employees an annual, individual health benefit - which can be spent in whichever way they choose, to boost health and wellbeing.

So whether that’s on pole fitness classes or tennis lessons - it’s up to the employee, which means it’s much more likely to be used and enjoyed.image-Jan-12-2022-08-35-52-10-AM

Other things you could do to support physical health in the workplace could be as simple as providing free fresh fruit and healthy snacks. Poor diet and lack of exercise can affect energy levels and stamina throughout the day, so it’s good, simple step that encourages a healthy and happy workforce.

Even the smallest of gestures have a big impact. They show you are invested in your peoples’ wellbeing.

3. Have regular mental health training, and reduce workplace stress

It’s not just about being in peak physical condition. You could have the fitness levels of an Olympic gold medalist, but it doesn’t matter if your mental health is poor. Good health is influenced by numerous, interlocking factors - it’s holistic.

Employee burnout is a widespread problem - 7 in 10 millennials experience at least some burnout at work. Stress, depression or anxiety accounted for 57% of all working days lost due to ill health, according to the most recent Labour Force Survey in 2018.image-Jan-12-2022-08-35-54-05-AM

An Australian study found that mental health training for managers produced a significant decrease in work-related sick leave - and we’ve spoken previously about the important of reducing stress in the workplace.

(Short on inspiration? Have a look at the health-boosting benefits we offer our people here).

4. Allow staff to take a ‘duvet day’

Rather than employees lying about being sick, or being physically present at work but mentally unfocused and disengaged, consider letting your staff take a personal day off, just because.


The allowance of ‘duvet days’ - paid time off that can be used for any reason - can prevent burnout, reduce turnover and create happy and productive employees.

At companies that encourage taking time off, 36% of employees report low stress levels at work, and 55% report being extremely happy at work.

5. Empower your workforce

The key to any successful workplace is keeping your staff engaged, motivated and empowered. 87% of employees worldwide are disengaged at work, meaning that productivity (and profitability) suffers as a result.


The opposite is also true: in businesses with highly engaged teams, absenteeism went down by 41%.

By providing your people with highly accessible and engaging up-skilling opportunities, that are delivered to them ‘on-demand’ (i.e. surfacing information at their point of need), you will empower your workforce to perform at their very best, motivating and engaging your team.

Through tapping into the power of accessible, relevant, information that engages and motivates, you’ll be able to build a sense of community and culture. This breeds loyalty. Employees that are engaged, motivated and loyal are more productive. We call this model 'Workforce Success'.

And a workplace that has achieved Workforce Success is one where its people are much less likely to ‘pull a sickie’.