Sickies 'create 10% fall in turnover'

A survey suggests people pulling sickies create unnecessary pressures on businesses. Time to look at your contingency plan?

by Emma Haslett
Last Updated: 07 Aug 2013

Stop the presses, hold the front page – Bupa says that for 62% of business owners, employee absence ‘negatively affects’ their business. You don’t say.

Ok, so that’s pretty obvious – but the insurer has also worked out that for nearly half of small businesses, workers pulling sickies creates a 10% drop in turnover. Ouch. No wonder, then, that 40% of business owners say they’d rather toil from their sick beds when they’re ill than take time off to recover properly. In fact, just under a third say their business would collapse if they took time off.

Of course, that’s not always true: it’s not uncommon for entrepreneurs to be pleasantly surprised that, when they’re unable to work, the business continues like a well-oiled machine without them. But Bupa says worrying about what would happen if they couldn’t make it into work one day is causing business owners all manner of mental anguish.

Well – not just business owners. Half of HR managers added that when staff have days off, those left to hold the fort have extra pressure put on – while a third of employees say they have to do overtime just to make up for a work that their absentee colleagues left behind. Although, to be fair, people would probably rather a bit of extra pressure than a bad case of flu...

Given the apparent gravity of the problem, then, you’d have thought business owners would be keen to make sure their employees stay fit and healthy. Not so much: according to the research, 38% admitted they spend more on stationery than they do on health initiatives like flu jabs or cycle to work schemes. So perhaps it’s not quite as bad as they’re making out?

Obviously, the point Bupa is trying to make is that all businesses should be investing in a healthcare scheme – although we’d say a decent contingency plan will suffice. Still, the group’s sales and marketing director, Tony Wood, paid tribute to entrepreneurs everywhere: ‘Small business bosses are… totally committed to running their firms in sickness as well as in health,’ he said. ‘[They’re] real troupers.’

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