National Sickie Day

Today, 4th February and the first Monday in February, is traditionally the day of the year when British workers are most likely to call in sick. But despite some of the excuses usually cited ranging from the obvious (sick or migraine 30 per cent, illness 12 per cent) to the most far-fetched (being over the limit after a weekend of excess, a non-existent bereavement, weather too bad to cycle into work), could there be another reason for today’s absenteeism?

Research, commissioned by Arden University, revealed that January had left almost half (46 per cent) of UK workers at a career crossroads. Unable to face another 11 months in their existing role, today very well may be the day when those British workers are putting their exit plans into action by attending their first job interview of the year.

According to Arden, some of the reasons why half of the UK’s workforce is at a career crossroads include feelings of: boredom (21 per cent), salaries being too low (34 per cent) and too much stress (30 per cent), leaving many considering their futures. Just under a third (27 per cent) reported feeling unsupported by the current employer, one in five (22 per cent) felt that a lack of flexible working opportunities is making them unhappy at work and alarmingly, just over one in ten of workers (12 per cent) said that they have been bullied out of a job.

The average British adult spends 42 hours at work each week, so changing role completely is an important decision and not one to be taken lightly. Over a third of those questioned (39 per cent) admitted that a previous job change had not improved their situation which could explain why for those who find themselves unable to progress in their current role, upskilling not quitting was an alternative option for a quarter (25 per cent) of those questioned. The problem is that improving, instead of moving, through upskilling and re-education is being hampered by money (49 per cent), time (35 per cent), family pressures (20 per cent) and a fear of failing (17 per cent) which explains why the most popular option is to move to improve.

Victoria Stakelum, Deputy CEO of Arden University, said,

Looking at the reasons that our survey respondents gave, at the beginning of the year, for wanting to ditch the day job it’s very likely that, for some people, today is the day when they’ll be putting exit plans into place. Feelings of stress, unhappiness, even bullying, are understandable reasons for wanting to exit a job and can certainly cause someone to become genuinely ill.

Yet, as more than a third of our survey respondents confirmed, acting in haste doesn’t always end up improving the situation. Changing jobs may not be the whole solution or certainly not without further research and upskilling first. If you’re thinking about leaving, I would say the key to a successful move would be to first assess where the skill gap, between you and your next job, lies and then working on improving your skillset before moving; otherwise, you could end up swapping one poor job situation for another.

For those taking a duvet day to escape an unhappy workplace, I would advise using the time wisely to form an exit strategy that will lead them to a job where pulling a sickie is a thing of the past.

On the other hand, Tushar Agarwal, co-founder and CEO of Hubble, highlights the importance of workplace quality.  He said,

From the ramifications of payday celebrations to people re-evaluating their careers and interviewing for jobs, there are a range of theories as to why sick days peak on the first Monday in February. With a new year comes a fresh start and companies have a job to do to retain and recruit employees.

The culture and quality of a workplace is fast becoming a top reason to stay at a company, and can make a huge difference to morale. Offering flexible working hours, top-level facilities and even the opportunity to bring pets into the office are all going to help grow a loyal and motivated workforce.


Interested in keeping a happy workforce through developing and attracting talent? We recommend Creating Value Through Employee Experience  training day, Optimising Performance Management Through Organisation Design graining day, and Talent Management and Leadership Development Summit 2019 






Aphrodite is a creative writer and editor specialising in publishing and communications. She is passionate about undertaking projects in diverse sectors. She has written and edited copy for media as varied as social enterprise, art, fashion and education. She is at her most happy owning a project from its very conception, focusing on the client and project research in the first instance, and working closely with CEOs and Directors throughout the consultation process. Much of her work has focused on rebranding; messaging and tone of voice is one of her expertise, as is a distinctively unique writing style in my most of her creative projects. Her work is always driven by the versatility of language to galvanise image and to change perception, as it is by inspiring and being inspired by the wondrous diversity of people with whom paths she crosses cross!

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