Management Today - end of the sickie?

ended 13. October 2021

A journalist at Management Today is writing an article on whether WFH signals the end of the sickie. Should managers try and insist that staff are probably able to do something from their sickbeds, or should they recognise that sick is sick, and not try to get them to work? A few quick lines will do! No essays!

6 responses from the Newspage community

Firstly people will continue to get sick, just because we work from home doesn’t mean sickness will end, but what we’re actually like to see is an increase in presenteeism. We know that WFH increases presenteeism, with over 1 in 3 continuing to work from home whilst being unwell. Managers should never insist on people working whilst they are unwell, sick is indeed sick ! They should however continue to use existing ways to monitor “levels” of sickness with employees and take relevant and necessary action based on trends or patterns in order to continue to monitor and manage sickness effectively.
"The ability to work from home should be given the same respect and privilege as some one who works full time from the office. This means that when a WFH colleague is ill, they are ill and should be given time to recuperate; burn out at home is the same as in the office. In both cases, productivity should be the motivating factor in any management structure in dealing with employee behaviour and sickness and this needs to take place within the companies comms, policy and culture. Businesses currently navigating the new ‘future of work’, need to address their historical working practices and replace it with a more Mutable organisational structure. This will give employers a much higher productivity ratio and employees greater earning potential as they move toward Outcome based earnings (which is more likely to make sick days a thing of the past than WFH in a PAYE working model)."
Insisting that employees work from home when they are unwell eventually damages relationships, forces disengagement and contributes to overall poor work culture and that has long-term consequences for any employer. Putting a robust sickness policy in place would be a great first step, so that everyone involved clearly understands when working from home is the most appropriate thing to do. This needs to be carefully considered and involve key stakeholders to ensure it’s well communicated. The most productive businesses utilise relationships with their employees to understand what is best for everyone involved. Working from home is often seen as an opportunity for those that are feeling under the weather to recuperate in the comfort of their own home and not pass any unwanted viruses or seasonal bugs to colleagues. However, if the best thing is for the employee to rest or they been signed off sick to ensure recover happens that this should be treated very seriously and they should only return, either by working at home or the office, once they are fully recovered. As we approach Winter 2021/22, we’re encouraging employers to consider the wider implications of outbreaks at their offices and disruptions to our important economic infrastructure.
"The idea that people can work from their sickbed is absolutely insane. All of the research clearly demonstrates that presenteeism has dire consequences for business, so this kind of thinking from managers can only make things much, much worse."
Trust is the foundation stone that wfh is built on and it relies on us being able to respect our needs as human. We all get sick and we all deserve the chance to rest and recover when it happens. The marginal gains any business will get from insisting people work while sick are far out weighed by the loss of respect, loyalty and long term productivity businesses will get from their employees. The days of control and compliance as a business model are dead and the new world needs to focus on effective outputs over presenteeism.
Trust cuts both ways in terms of ‘sickies’ which is a euphemism for pretending to be ill. If you are sick, you’re sick. If you are pulling a sickie, you are abusing the trust of your employer who is footing the bill for your absence, and if repeated often enough, eventually leads to HR processes for everyone becoming punitively robust. No employer in their right mind would expect an employee to work whilst sick. Trusting they truly are sick is another issue related to the health of the relationship between boss and team member. Open lines of communication, mutual trust and a team that has bought into the company culture avoids sickies, whether they are in-office absences or WFH. Not abusing trust from either side then maintains equilibrium.