Most of us have gone to work when we didn’t feel good. But what do you do when employees call in sick when they aren’t?.
A CareerBuilder survey found that 35% of workers who called in sick were not sick at all.
The reason for this varies, but many employees call in sick because they simply don’t feel like going to work or they have personal business to attend to.
This predictable behavior is why so many organizations now use a paid benefit model that combines vacation time with sick and personal time.
In this model, earned paid time hours are combined into a bank of hours that is referred to as paid time off (PTO) or earned time off (ETO).
This model offers employees the flexibility of managing their hours and deciding when to take time off of work.
Employees like the flexibility of this kind of model because of the competing responsibilities with their home life.
These paid time bank hours allow an employee to choose how to take their time. Whether that is vacation, caring for a sick loved one or merely a mental health day (that we all need now and then)!
As an example, I worked for an organization that gave employees one week of paid vacation after the first year of employment and two weeks after being on the job for two years. This was in addition to employees earning one paid sick day a month or 12 days per year.
When I first started working for this organization, I was stunned by how many employees called in sick – almost daily.
After talking to employees, and watching their behaviors, I soon learned that employees were using their sick time to compensate for the minimal amount of vacation time that they had.
The generous bank of sick hours proved to be an incentive for employees to call in sick.
The problem with this model was that the organization had a difficult time covering shifts when an employee would call in sick at the last minute.
This caused many departments to scramble at a moment’s notice to ensure all areas were covered.
The leadership team spent a couple of months drafting a new PTO policy and made a recommendation to transition the organization from vacation and sick time banks of hours to a combined bank that included both hours.
The policy, that was approved and later rolled out, allowed an employee to accrue 56 hours (7 days of sick time) and 80 hours (10 days vacation) into a combined bank of hours totaling 136 hours or 17 days per year.
We also added increased levels of PTO as employees met key milestone years.
For example, in the 10th year of employment, an employee would receive an additional 40 hours or 5 days of PTO to their bank giving them a balance of 176 earned hours.
The challenge came when we had to roll out the new policy.
To do this, we began with a training session.
We met with all employees and shared the new time off model.
We provided example scenarios and shared the difference between the old model and the new model.
For example, the new model could be used for planned time off or unplanned (sick) time off.
The advantage of this was the flexibility it allowed for the employee to decide how to use their bank of hours.
As we rolled out the new policy, we learned that we could have done a better job of helping employees understand this new model.
There was a lot of push back and resistance – at least for a few months.
However, once employees started using their PTO, and watched their bank of hours grow, they loved it!
Like any other employee benefit, this model requires a bit of administrative oversight, to track hours used, planned vs unplanned hours.
But the end result is an employee base who have the flexibility to use their paid days off for their specific personal needs.
How does your organization handle paid time away from work?