That old advice, penny wise, pound foolish, never felt truer.
Sick or not, most managers aren’t happy unless all workers are full-time at their desks, getting on with the job.
Most staff know this. So despite being sick, do their damnedest to get back to work ASAP. There might not be a job if they don’t.
Which means staying at home two days instead of three. Getting back to work only half-recovered. And stressing about under-performance once they’re back.
The downside of penny-pinching
Hold that thought – under-performance.
About what happens when ANYONE is unwell at work.
Impaired competence. Not up to the mark. Not really doing their job properly.
Unsurprising really. How well CAN you perform when your guts are on fire, your head pounds like a pile-driver and your thoughts are all over the place?
And the boss is happy to pay for this deficiency?
That jobs take longer, important issues get missed and key clients feel neglected?
Has the price tag ever been calculated?
OK, according to CIPD figures, the average employee costs £522 per year in sick leave. Six days out of circulation at around £87 a day. Or as business experts PwC calculate it, an all-up cost to the country of £29 billion a year.
Not chicken-feed, so the average boss tries everything to avoid it.
Usually with stick, not carrot. Psychological mind games and bullying. The emotional blackmail of letting colleagues down. Real or imagined threats to job security.
Yeah right, a saving of £87 per person, per day.
£174 if pressured into coming back two days early instead of one. Big deal.
Meanwhile, as businesses are beginning to find, being unwell at work costs 10 times more than being booked off sick.
Save £87 – and lose £870. Penny-pinching gone mad.
And that’s just for starters.
Coming back early, those staffers could be contagious. Bringing back germs to infect others. A domino effect going round the office. More sick days, more expense – and more under-performance for everyone coming back early.
Make that under-performance, de luxe.
Because how motivated is anyone pressured into being at work when it’s a challenge just to be there? How committed? How prepared to go the extra mile?
Which is where the price tag gets scary – applied “germonomics”.
Over and above the cost of being booked off sick – how does it work, being unwell at your desk?
What’s the cost of opportunities not followed up? Orders mislaid or lost? Delay penalties on late finishing work? Cost overruns from lack of supervision? Loss of goodwill? Or the cost of extra time and temp staff hired to meet deadlines?
Kinda makes nonsense out of strong-arming staff back to work, doesn’t it?
Or paying them an incentive to do so. Good money after bad.
And how about the fact that a lot of the time, it’s not being unwell that’s the issue? How about that most of us FREQUENTLY feel off colour and not completely ourselves? That somehow we feel pain or physical discomfort around every three days?
No wonder that under-performance is as expensive as it is.
Expensive and invisible. Often as much as a whole year’s salary per staff member eaten up in unnecessary overheads – a double salary bill.
Mistakenly accepted as things taking longer than expected, unforeseen setbacks and problems with productivity. All hazily explained away as a “cost of doing business”.
Yet how many bosses ever do anything to prevent it?
Not with bribes or misplaced back-to-work incentives, but a real investment in protecting staff health?
Because it can be done. Actively protecting staff health so they don’t get ill in the first place. At least, not in their working area.
All it takes is regular treatment to eradicate germs. Make the place sterile once a week, or even daily. No germs, people can’t get sick. All that money rescued.
Adding it to normal cleaning procedures will do it. A few hundred quid extra to mist the place up with ionised hydrogen peroxide – to oxidise all viruses and bacteria and be totally germ-free.
Not penny-pinching, but pound-grabbing.
And a lot extra besides.
How much better will staff feel, knowing that THEIR interests are at heart, that THEIR health is deliberately protected?
How about commitment now? Staff loyalty? Capability and performance? Going the extra mile? Productivity and efficiency? Or the company bank balance?
The costs might be invisible, but the dividends aren’t.
A lot better than penny-pinching, surely.
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