Good managers experience fewer ‘sickies’

by 07 Mar 2012

Employees who have a good relationship with their manager are far less likely to take a day off when they aren’t sick new research has found.

Talent management firm SHL found that 33% of Australian workers rank too many responsibilities and ‘burnout’ as their top reasons for taking sick leave when they aren’t sick.

Stephanie Christopher from SHL said the results were not surprising given the rise of 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." She added that not all managers have the skills or training required to effectively manage team dynamics and individual performance; as a result, employees are taking mental health days because they’re not coping with their workload.

A key element of good management is to understand each individual’s preferred way of working, such as increasing flexibility. The research findings support the notion of ‘adaptable management’,  as 74% of employees who said they have a good manager also said their superior knows when to step in to boost productivity, and when to allow team members to ‘just get on with the job’.

Other key findings of the research included:

  • Employees with good managers believe it’s not right to take sick leave when you’re not sick (42%, compared to 30% with poor managers)

  • 38% of Australian employees say career progression is important to their engagement

  • 40% say opportunities for training and development is important for engagement at work

  • 59% of Australians say their level of motivation at work is influenced by their manager

Reasons employees took time off when they weren’t sick:

  • 33% worked too many hours and burnt out / too much responsibility and not coping

  • 27% had family problems to deal with

  • 12% wanted to do other things
  • 9% were bored with work

  • 7% can’t stand their manager

  • 4% had a successful streak and deserved a break

  • 4% couldn’t face the commute in bad weather

Attitudes to sick leave:

  • 63% Australian employees have taken time of when not sick

  • 32% have never taken a day off when not genuinely sick  

  • 11% consider sick days to be a part of their salary and will take their full allowance each year


Latest News

Making a redundancy? Redeployment might be better
Non-standard rewards schemes Part I: Bonus annual leave on birthdays
HR on the red carpet: Film studio seeks HR business partner

Most discussed

Offshoring the result of “poor HR leadership”: Minister
Key competencies of future leaders identified
Aussie managers: Do they innovate and think globally enough?


  • by Erica Collins 7/11/2011 2:44:50 PM

    Another good article to help managers improve staff engagement. I agree with Stephanie's focus on managers being able to adapt their style to each individual’s preferred way of working and depending on what is happening or has been achieved in the workplace. This can be addressed by developing managers' emotional intelligence.

Most Read