Do your employees suffer from Friday-itis?

Have you heard about Friday-itis, the significant drop in motivation and concentration seen on Fridays among many workers who look forward to their weekend days off but a day in advance?

Almost every employee has at some point experienced the need to legitimately take an unplanned day off for rest, for the sake of his physical or mental health. Defined by the Labour Standards Act and most collective agreements and employment contracts, a sick day is a one-time day of leave taken by an employee due to the inability, whether psychological and physical, to be present at his workplace to adequately carry out his professional functions.

Short and occasional, this involuntary absence is easily accepted and absorbed by the company. But when it is repeated and almost invariably falls on the eve of a weekend, absence for last minute sickness can quickly give an employer a headache.

When it becomes avoidable, systematic and based on a false motive, this “Friday Sicknesssyndrome falls into the category of unreasonable and abusive absenteeism. This has significant impact on a company’s organizational efficiency, productivity and competitiveness. So much so that many managers avoid setting up important meetings on Fridays, knowing the higher likelihood that their staff will all be at work the rest of the week.

Despite the high cost of absenteeism, a study published in 2012 by the Conference Board of Canada found that only 46% of Canadian companies report that they monitor their employees’ absences and the reasons given. To properly assess absenteeism means beginning to understand it and not letting it pass.

Although abusive in form and use, Friday sick leave can also be explained by other factors that need to be taken seriously. An employee can take a break in the wrong way that he might reasonably need, in connection with factors specific to the company – having a clearly excessive workload or a deterioration in his work environment’s quality, for example.

Focusing on suspicious scrutiny or the threat of penalties is not a solution for employers. Indirectly forcing presenteeism on an employee, in other words to come in and stay at work even when he has serious reasons not to do so, can be even more damaging for everyone. Statistics Canada estimates that loss of productivity associated with presenteeism is 7.5 times higher than that caused by absenteeism.


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