Chucking a sickie doesn’t hurt careers

by Stephanie Zillman05 Nov 2012

The sickie. It’s the antithesis of productivity and the enemy of employers around the country. On the eve of the biggest ‘sickie’ day of the year, Melbourne Cup, surprising survey results have been released which found sickies don’t actually hurt careers.

Psychometric testing company Onetest surveyed some 2,851 Australian graduate program applicants across a range of industries 10 years ago to track how their young lifestyle choices would impacted their progression – and the results are surprising.

A decade on, the same individuals were re-surveyed and it was conclusively found that career progression isn’t impacted by taking non-genuine sick days. Onetest’s head of psychology, Cherie Curtis, said because the humble ‘sickie’ was a known Australian tradition, questions about the number of non-genuine sick days taken by participants were added and measured against the rate of termination and promotion. “We’ve been exploring the outcomes of people who had entered the workforce and investigated the influence of various lifestyle choices on career outcomes like satisfaction and progression,” Curtis said.

Only a very weak relationship between termination and sickies was discovered, and even less of a correlation was found between the number of sickies taken and an employee’s rate of promotion.

“These correlations are too weak to conclude that ‘chucking a sickie’ will have much of an impact on an employee’s career progression,” she said.

The study also revealed strong relationships between the rate of sickies taken and the dissatisfaction an individual had with the industry in which they work. “We found that participants who reported feeling dissatisfied with life were 48% more likely to ‘chuck a sickie’ compared to those who were satisfied with life,” Curtis said.

Notably, employees in the environmental industry and marketing and sales professions reported taking the most number of non-genuine sick days, while employees of the defence industry reported taking the least number of non-genuine sick days.


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