Too hot to handle? The summer ‘sickies’ damaging your business 

We’ve had a tantalizing glimpse of summer, with soaring temperatures, the smell of barbeques and a few burnt bits among those determined to make the most of the May sun. While blue skies bring out flip flops and ice cream vans, it also brings out absenteeism – a major workplace scourge that peaks in the summers months when employees call in ‘sick’ to sneak off to the coast or lay on a sun lounger at home.

The recent mini May heat wave is said to have cost the UK economy millions of pounds, with the impact of a staff away from the office for a full day compounded by others taking longer lunch breaks and requesting to leave early to make the most of the weather. Speaking during a heat wave in 2015, University of Southampton economist Alessandro Mennuni said: “People get distracted by good weather. Even a 30-minute reduction in working time costs the economy.”

The bad news is ‘summer sickies’ will happen in your office this year. A survey of 2,000 adults in 2015 by Barefoot found that employees pulled an average of two ‘sick’ days a year just so they could enjoy the sun. And the trouble doesn’t end there. Of those who make it to office, 28% say it’s too hot to actually work. With the real summer season just around the corner and the prospect of prolonged sunny spells, it’s worth asking yourself if your business could handle repeated casual absenteeism and work shy sun worshippers.

The good news is there are ways of preventing unplanned leave this summer. You might consider granting a ‘sunshine’ day of leave, along the lines of a ‘duvet day’. This is an extra day off for all staff on top of annual leave. The idea is employees ask for a ‘sunshine’ day with little or no notice, without penalty. You can also create a summer rota where all staff get the chance to finish early on a Friday – perhaps after lunch – providing everyone helps cover for each other.

Of course, these summer benefits can’t be used by every employee at the same time but they are friendly perks from the boss that help retain staff, boost morale and go a long way to preventing short notice sickies every time the sun shines.

The bad news is property is often an ‘all hands on deck’ industry where every cog in the machine is needed to keep transactions and tenancies on track. If you can’t afford to suddenly have a man down when the mercury rises, it might be time to think about Plan B. Yes, you can snoop on social media to catch out ‘sick’ staff who are actually filling their Facebook feed with beer garden and tan line snaps but what next? Sack them upon their return and create an even bigger resourcing issue for yourself? How about outsourcing to a reliable property team who don’t feign food poisoning every time the sun shines?


Simon Duce is the Founder and Managing Director of ARPM Outsourced Lettings Support - a business designed to help small and start-up letting agents/property managers offer a full suite of property management and tenancy administration services through outsourcing.

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