Are Younger Employers More Likely To Pull A Sickie

It’s hard to think of a generation that’s had more written about it than the current millennial generation. Page after page has hit the presses suggesting that they will revolutionise the workplace, both for good and for bad. They have, for instance, been labelled the digital native generation and as such are charged with heralding a new dawn of more enlightened working. Old fashioned concepts like going to the office 9-5 will be consigned to the dustbin as they begin to work whenever and wherever they want.

I’m rather skeptical over just how influential this generation will be in that regard. For example, studies suggest, that millennials don’t actually mind a bit of hierarchy in their organisations, just so long as the hierarchy treats people fairly.

Of course, not all of the research around the millennial cohort has been complementary.  A recent survey conducted by researchers at the University of Melbourne found that younger employees were more likely to try and pull a sickie than their older peers.

The Future of Work study was published by the Centre for Workplace Leadership and set out to measure just how Australian employees viewed the work they did each day.  Participants were asked, for instance, whether particular colleagues are more likely to try and phone in sick or whether particular colleagues tended to look forward to each working week.

Do older workers really enjoy work more than younger ones?

The results have some fascinating implications for both employees and managers alike. For instance, a fascinating trend emerged around the kind of employee that found work enjoyable.

"The people less likely to fake a sick day were workers over 45 years old or in executive and senior management positions. These more senior employees were also more likely to look forward to returning to work after their weekend," the researchers revealed.

The study also revealed that those in full time roles were much more likely to try and pull a sickie than their part time colleagues.  What’s more, this group was also less enthusiastic about their work.

"The results show that if you take a sickie, you’re less likely to look forward to going to work on a Monday," the researchers continue. "This may imply that people who take ’mental health days’ do so because they feel disgruntled at work, and that those who work part-time are more enthusiastic about returning to work."

A management divide

Whilst those in management were shown to look forward to work each week, their team were often much less enthusiastic. Whilst just 19 percent of managers revealed dread of coming in each Monday, this figure rose to 42 percent for employees in total. What’s more, the figures seem to get worse the lower down the organisation you go.

"There are also warning bells for middle managers," the researchers warn. "Thirty-six percent of middle managers admit to faking a sick day in the past twelve months and forty-seven percent believe that their counterparts are being paid more than they are."

The results provide a telling replication of the famous Whitehall Studies, which revealed that the health, happiness and even life expectancy of British civil servants rose tremendously the higher up the organisation they were.

Despite all the rhetoric about the changing world of work, that truism seems to be holding firm.

Do you think that young people are more likely to fake a sick day? Your thoughts and comments below please?


Image: iStock

Younger workers more likely to fake a sickie