Mondays - aren’t they the worst?

The weekend’s come and gone in no time at all and suddenly it’s back to the grind for another long, arduous week of work. There’s no day that drags on quite like Monday, so it’s no surprise to hear that it’s had the largest absentee rate across the last six months of any weekday.

New findings from ELAS show that in the first half of 2017, nine out of the ten days with the highest absences were all Mondays. The only exception was on Tuesday 3rd January, which in turn also happened to be the day with the most recorded absences. It’s hardly surprising considering that it was the first day back at work for many people following New Year and the holiday season.

Apparently getting back into the swing of things was difficult for a lot of people as January makes up half of the top ten highest absences, with the 3rd, 9th, 16th, 23rd and 30th all appearing on the list. That included every Monday in the month, one of which was Blue Monday.

Referred to as the most depressing day of the year, it generally falls on the third Monday in January and has often been associated with high levels of absence. The day tends to be decided by a number of factors, including the likelihood of people having failed their new year’s resolutions, but despite still appearing in the top ten, its position at number eight signifies that it’s no longer such a massive problem for employers.

Likewise, National Sickie Day, which occurred on Monday 6th February, also posed less of an issue with its presence on the list down to number six. However, 7am on this day was still the hour with the highest number of sick calls so far this year.

In response to this, Enrique Garcia from ELAS said that:

“These statistics bring good news for employers in that National Sickie Day appears to no longer exist. Of course, genuine absences cannot be helped but frequent absenteeism, or sickies, is a problem that needs to be tackled.

“It’s impossible to tell if it’s purely coincidental that the absence rate on Mondays is so high or if people are taking advantage and wanting to extend the weekend but this is the second year in a row that the statistics have shown there is a pattern, which is something employers should be aware of.”

It can be extremely difficult for employers to tackle absenteeism, especially when it’s hard to know if people’s reasons are genuine or not. There are systems that can be put in place which are able to track potential patterns of absence, such as the regularity of someone taking a sick day on a Monday. By identifying where cases like this are happening, employers can take disciplinary action which should put people off calling in with fake absences. Although this would not remove the problem, it would at least diminish it.

Promoting a positive culture at work will also go a long way to reduce the likelihood of frequent absences. No matter how much someone loves their job, the day to day toil grows weary, which means a lot of effort needs to go into ensuring that the office is an enjoyable place to be five days a week. Daily incentives work well to give people something to look forward to, such as a free lunch one day or a trip to the pub after work. Given Monday and Friday normally have higher absence rates, set the best of these incentives at the start and end of the week to try and sustain higher attendance levels.

If employees are taking sick days because they feel stressed or overworked then communication with them is key. This will only happen if you form and maintain a good bond with your staff so they’ll feel comfortable admitting when things are becoming too much. Someone who’s suffering from too much stress will not be productive in the workplace, and if this leads to them taking days off then things will only grow worse. Building up a good rapport with employees is not difficult, a positive comment here and a note of appreciation there can go a long way. Your company will thrive because of it.

Whatever the reason for absences, it is up to you as an employer to make the call. As ELAS employment law consultant Emma O’Leary says, “you are perfectly entitled to challenge the authenticity of an absence,” but it’s best to try and target absenteeism in the first place before it gets out of hand.

James Darvill

James is a passionate scriptwriter and reluctant poet with a talent for the dystopian. When he’s not staying up late watching the Simpsons he’s beating the world at Mario Kart, always with a glass of wine in hand.
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