The sick man of Europe

by Barrie Hopson on July 16, 2010 · 3 comments

in Flexible working,New ways of working

You may well have seen the stats released this work which shows that as a nation we take off more days sick than any other country in Europe. In fact 25% of all sickie days happen here. So what is going on? Maybe it makes sense to look at this alongside the unemployment figures also released this week. This shows that although overall there has been a small reduction in unemployment this is  due largely to an increase in part time work and self employment. In other words as a society we are still hung up on ‘proper jobs’ even though all the evidence suggests that more and more people are not happy with this career pattern – and possibly therefore take off as many days as they can get away with. Many of the part time jobs will be taken by women who are developing their own work/life blend and a higher proportion of the self employed are also women – doing a similar thing. The sickie days might also be a consequence of the ‘presenteeism’ that is still rife in our workplaces. If employers utilised flexible working more widely then some of those issues might be less problematic.

What we are seeing all around us is a redefinition of what people want paid work to be and a value shift as to what we want to achieve in life.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Carl Gardner July 16, 2010 at 12:02 pm

I think this is partly to do with the way power works in organisations, too, and what we do during the hours we are at work. If you’re a really senior manager you tend to be allowed to work “flexibly” in the sense of often being away from your desk doing various other things, whether it be a meeting outside, a conference or a lunch – without anyone keeping tabs on whether or when you’re at your desk.

Often the people they manage have much more repetitive working lives, always doing the same thing and being constantly checked up on.

If organisations could change that, and give all their workers a bit of “give” in what they do, I think they’d find less alienation and that people would have less need to pass on work occasionally to take control of their lives for a random day.

2 Dr Barrie Hopson July 18, 2010 at 7:39 pm

I totally agree. I see many very enlightened companies these days but still for each of these there are probably another 10 who still reflect the working stereotypes of 30 years ago or even more. On the whole SME’s are more likely to provide this flexibility than the large companies with HR divisions.

3 The Blogs Rocket July 22, 2010 at 6:07 pm

Very nice article, thanks! I’ve subscribed to your RSS feed. Please keep up posting.

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