Why are 66% of Employees Uncomfortable Taking a Sick Day?
According to a survey conducted by OnePoll, 66% of Americans working from home say they believe that taking sick days for anything less severe than COVID-19 would be looked down upon by their employer. Is this good news or bad news? It depends on your perspective.
On the one hand, despite the challenges of 2020, employees are more productive than ever. And because most are able to work from anywhere now, minor illness, appointments, or other personal disruptions don't require employees to take time off. On the other hand, some would say that this stat points to a larger problem: a lack of trust.
Why are two-thirds of employees uncomfortable admitting they don't feel well enough to do their best work? Is an uncertain economy to blame? Perhaps, in part, but according to Dr. Richard Claydon, there's much more at play here.
Claydon, who's a behavioral scientist and Chief Cognitive Officer at EQ Lab, has devoted much of his career to studying what's the coined the trust crisis. And more specifically, organizational misbehavior. When you look at this survey through the lens of his research, it seems that organizational misbehavior is probably the main reason why so many employees don't feel comfortable taking sick time when they need it.
Last month, we had a fascinating conversation with Dr. Claydon on the 8x8 Podcast, An Open Conversation. A large part of that discussion was centered on organizational misbehavior, and what companies can do to rebuild trust with their employees and customers.
As with any challenge, the key to finding solutions is first understanding the causes. Dr. Claydon said that impression management is to blame for a lot of the dysfunction and distrust that occurs within organizations, and it's only gotten worse with COVID-19. So, rather than having open conversations about things that need to change, or speaking up to set boundaries that lead to better work, employees stay silent.
"If you're the person who's constantly speaking up and saying I don't think this is the right way to do things, you get seen as negative pretty quickly. And you're not going to be looked at for the next set of promotions. It's a career risk," he says. "And there's another form of impression management happening during the pandemic with people working from home. Employees are trying to make themselves more visible, so they end up in more meetings and calling more meetings. Rather than speaking up and saying, I need time to do my work, employees feel they have to be seen, which is hugely dysfunctional."
Should executives care about this problem? And what can they do to address the dysfunction and lack of trust? We explored these questions in the latest episode of An Open Conversation, and want to invite you to be part of the discussion.
Listen to the episode for a fascinating take on the science behind trust, the path to more functional teamwork, and ways companies can encourage more honest communication. Then, tell us what you think! Drop us a note on Twitter, or leave a review on our podcast.