Sick of the boss

It probably doesn’t come across as a shock to many of us to hear that almost two thirds of Australian employees have taken a sick day when they weren’t really sick. But it may be a surprise to learn employees with poor managers are much more likely to pull a ‘sickie’ then their counterparts with good managers and, according to a survey by SHL, 33% of employees have taken a sick day because of having too much responsibility and stress at work.

Stephanie Christopher, national director for SHL, Australia and New Zealand, says the results are not surprising given the rise of the under-skilled managers.

“Organisations that continued to promote staff into management positions despite scaling-back career development programs in recent years, are now feeling the effects of under-skilled managers.

“Not all managers have the skill or ability to effectively manage team dynamics and individual performance, as a result, employees are taking mental health days because they’re not coping.

“Managers are the strongest link between employees and productivity. Employers must ensure their management teams are armed with the right skills to drive motivation and output throughout the business,” adds Christopher.

A good manager was defined by 74% of the respondents as someone who knows when to step in to boost productivity, and when to allow team members to just get on with the job. The SHL research also showed that employees believe good managers know how to motivate their team. But the issue for many managers is that they just have not had the training and development opportunities they need to be better able to motivate and manage their team.

 “Now is the ideal time for employers to renew investment in development programs to attract and re-motivate talent. In particular, organisations should look to assess the capability of their line managers, to identify skills gaps,” says Christopher.

Other key statistics:

  • Employees with good managers were less likely to take a day off when they weren’t sick (35% compared to 29% with poor managers)
  • 23% of those with poor managers say they have taken time off because they couldn’t stand their manager, compared to only 4% of those who rated their manager as good
  • 23% of those with poor managers would seek to step into their manager’s role if it became vacant
  • 59% of Australians say their level of motivation at work is influenced by their manager
  • 33% took time off when they weren’t sick because they had worked too many hours, were burnt out or had too much responsibility and were not coping
  • 27% had family problems to deal with
  • 12% wanted to do other things
  • 11% considered sick days to be part of their salary and would take their full allowance each year
  • 9% were bored with work
  • 7% couldn’t stand their manager
  • 4% had a successful streak and deserved a break
  • 4% couldn’t face the commute in bad weather

[Source: Recruitment Extra: December 2011 – January 2012 Edition]