Unpeel The Onion-Part 4

Some employers see a rise in bogus sick days, poll says
Article explains how employers see a rise in bogus sick days according to the Career Builder poll. Excuses involve bowling balls, cows and evil chickens.
Article written by Mary Ellen Podmolik of the Chicago Tribune: 6:47 CDT, October 27, 2010.

Boss, I couldn’t come to work because my foot was caught in the garbage disposal.

It’s not exactly the oldest excuse in the book. Yet it’s one that an employee once used to stay home, according to a new poll by CareerBuilder that found almost three in 10 workers are making up reasons to call in “sick” to get a mental break from the daily grind.

More than a quarter of the 2,400 employers surveyed said they’ve seen an increase in bogus sick days, attributing the uptick to job stress and burnout caused by a continued weak economy.

Sounding sniffly on the phone doesn’t always work, though, and that mental day off could cause even more stress. Sixteen percent of bosses said they’ve fired a worker for missing a day on the job without a proven excuse.

Many bosses checked up on an employee, with 70 percent of them asking for a doctor’s note. Half called the “sick” employee at home, and 18 percent had someone else make the phone call.

And, in a scene reminiscent of “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” 15 percent of suspicious bosses said they drove by the employee’s house or apartment.

If only some of the same creativity used to miss work found a place on the job, employers might be thinking.

Among some of the other more unusual excuses bosses told CareerBuilder, partly owned by Chicago Tribune parent Tribune Co., that they’ve heard:

A finger was stuck in a bowling ball. A cow got in the house. And, Mom was attacked by a chicken.

No word on whether the foot in the disposal story worked.

MY INITIAL THOUGHTS
Do we really need a poll to tell us this? It’s almost like CareerBuilder or the Chicago Tribune is making light of this situation and that’s understandable, they have to sell ads but this doesn’t sit well with me. A different and more positive alternative would be to help improve on the job attitudes or employee/employer relationships – that would be maybe, closer to building a career (CareerBuilder).

I read that some bosses will check up on employees when they call in sick. Bosses have too much time if they’re checking up on their employees. I’m also thinking does this type of boss have a personal vendetta against certain employees to prompt them to check on them?

Another reason employees are absent and don’t show up for work might mean they have a job interview. They’re trying to find a better opportunity elsewhere as the economy slowly rebounds.

Or, they can’t stomach handling irate customers that day.

How many employees feel as though there’s no openness and honesty in the workplace? Many may feel they have to lie and say they’re physically sick and feel they can’t be honest and open and say they don’t want to deal with crap that day and need a mental health day.

Or maybe they don’t have the physical or emotional strength that day to go into work and be overworked and under appreciated.

How long of a survey was conducted? What motivated CareerBuilder to do this survey in the first place? How did CareerBuilder evaluate the effectiveness of this survey?

Do employers really appreciate reliable and punctual employees? Years ago, this was a more important trait many employers wanted but maybe not so much today. If they want reliable and punctual employees, how is this being communicated within the company or to prospective employees? Are these things emphasized as part of the review process in those companies that value this characteristic?

Some employees I’ve spoken with say they can’t be honest with your employer because there is no trust because there’s very little integrity and you really have no control or know what they will do. So you lie, even if it’s against your character you lie to get a break. You can’t take a chance and tell the truth because you could potentially lose your job.

Which employers were surveyed? What methodology was used to determine who was going to be pooled as part of the survey? Were those surveyed strictly in the Chicago area? How many employers declined? What are the demographics of those surveyed? In other words, were they mainly large, for profit companies or did the sample represent employees as a whole in the Chicago area?

What type or size of company would actually hire a boss to drive by the house and investigate? Or harass them in any way? Do some employees feel like their employees are indentured servants?

More than a quarter of the 2,400 employers surveyed said they’ve seen an increase in bogus sick days. Is it possible for them to quantify this increase?

Kevin Schwarm

I have over 25 years of professional experience in business, information technology (IT), and customer service. Industry experience in retail, medical insurance, higher education, non-profit, financial services, and property and casualty insurance. Customer focused professional interested in providing value (save time, money and aggravation) by evaluating and analyzing information, services and products with a unique perspective.