Fake Sick Excuses Reveal Need for Mental Health Days

Last week, the HR and working world at large, were abuzz with a survey by Career Builder. The 2012 survey revealed how many workers lie about illness, and some of the most, um… creative, excuses people came up with for getting out of work. While the excuses are amusing and sometimes, downright hilarious, isn’t it time we start facing the fact that sometimes we need a day off, and we may not be sick. Mental health days are a perfectly legitimate reason to take a day off, more organizations need to start making it policy, that you’re entitled to a few days off annually for mental health. Allowing honesty and and transparency among employees and leaders, can help foster an environment and culture of trust and understanding.

Some of the lame but entertaining excuses to come out of the survey were:

  • “forgot he was hired for the job”
  • “sick from reading too much”
  • “upset after watching ‘The Hunger Games'”
  • “toe stuck in faucet”
  • “dog was having a nervous breakdown”
  • “dead grandmother being exhumed for police investigation”

The survey also revealed that 30% of workers have faked being sick to get out of work. That’s nearly one third of workers who would rather lie than face going to work. Why not institute a policy of having an allotted amount of days for “mental health?” Or even unlimited time off, like Netflix has done for almost 10 years. Some fear that unlimited sick days would be abused, but it’s been proven in studies time and again, unlimited sick leave promotes engagement and loyalty. Netflix vice president for corporate communications, Steve Swasey had this to say on the subject:

“I personally am enthusiastic about my job,” he says. “and I don’t mind checking my BlackBerry when I’m climbing ruins in Guatemala and Honduras, which I’ve done.”

So instead of fielding calls from workers telling you they were “attacked by a bird,” why not give them the benefit of the doubt, and let them take the time off they need. Having time off to recharge when you need it makes you more productive in the long run. People have lives, when you let them live them outside of work, more often than not, their work lives improve as well.

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