This last year almost a third of UK workers have admitted to taking additional days off to avoid work

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New study from workplace culture experts calls into doubt the validity of ‘National Sickie Day’ (7 February 2022), instead pointing to poor office culture as the root cause of over a quarter of all absences. According to the O.C. Tanner 2022 Global Culture Report, 28% of UK workers have taken more days off recently to avoid work, with more than a quarter (26%) stating that they hate going to work.

“The title ‘National Sickie Day’ trivialises mental health and wellness concerns, and implies that individuals who take time off when they aren’t feeling well are ‘pulling a fast one,'” says Robert Ordever, MD of O.C. Tanner Europe, “Rather, the focus should be on why certain employees are having difficulty getting to work, whether in person or digitally.” Could a workplace culture around sickness be to blame for the rise in absences, with employees feeling alienated from their coworkers, separated from their bosses, and unappreciated by the company?”

The O.C. Tanner Report, which included over 38,000 employees, leaders, HR practitioners, and executives from 21 countries, including over 2,500 from the United Kingdom, highlights the rising social dispersion of workplaces. It emphasises how the epidemic has caused social bonds to break down, resulting in increasing mental health issues as lonely and alienated people seek methods to escape work.

In fact, just under half of UK workers (45%) report having been compelled to leave their jobs at times. The futility many people feel is emphasised by the fact that 42% said it wouldn’t matter to higher-ups if they wanted to alter things at their company.

Furthermore, nearly a third of workers (30%) agree that they have nothing more to contribute in their jobs, with a similar amount (28%) saying that things they used to accept at work are now bothering them.

“When a rising number of people are absent from work due to mental health issues, the organisational culture must be examined,” says Ordever. “Leaders must consider all aspects of culture, from the organization’s mission and leadership to how respected, supported, and appreciated people feel on a daily basis.”

Employees and their leaders, teams, and the organisation should all be nurtured, according to the Global Culture Report. Employees are 86 percent less likely to experience burnout and the company is 12 times more likely to prosper when they have strong social relationships at work and feel linked to the organization’s purpose.

Regular and personalised employee appreciation is also seen to be important for a healthy workplace. Employees are 131 percent more likely to feel linked to the organisation, its leaders, and their colleagues when recognition is widespread throughout the culture.

“Rather than blaming people for trying to escape work, the attention must be firmly placed on what organisations are or aren’t doing to provide their employees a feeling of purpose, belonging, and worth,” Ordever says.

See how HealthBoxHR can help your business improve company culture by always having a means of communication between managers and employees with MyChatBox & Performance features. Additionally, stay on top of your employee mental health with our Mental Health Management tool. 

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