8.6 million British workers took sick days in the last year because work was “too painful”, Insight research finds


Culture, colleagues and volume of work drive absenteeism – while 12.1 million workers came into work while sick

London, UK, February 03, 2020 – Insight, a Fortune 500-ranked global provider of Intelligent Technology Solutions, has today released research revealing that poor workplace culture drove both absenteeism and unhealthy behaviour in the UK workplace in the past year.

Released on National Sickie Day the research reveals that within the last year:

  • 8.6 million British workers took sick days because coming into work felt too painful – for instance due to feeling overworked; systems, processes and technology making it too hard to get work done; or not liking the people at their workplace(1)
  • 12.1 million British workers admitted coming into work while sick – for reasons including not wanting to be judged by their employers (4.3 million) and co-workers (3.1 million)(2)
  • 6.4 million British workers could be open to working from home when not feeling well, but cannot do so – for instance because working from home isn’t allowed or their company doesn’t have the technology in place to support it; or because people won’t trust the amount of work they’d do(3)

“If employees are too scared to take a sick day, or are using sick days to avoid a workplace that they clearly find uncomfortable, this points to serious issues within an organisations’ culture,” said Emma de Sousa, UK Managing Director at Insight. “Employees should be empowered to work in a way that suits them and organisations need to offer a supportive culture, underpinned with the processes and technology to make it work in practice. Businesses that can’t or won’t provide this will struggle to attract and retain the brightest and best talent – and will find their employees’ morale and productivity steadily falling.”

Actions businesses can take to improve their culture and help workers feel more empowered include:

  • Ensuring employees’ performance is measured based on goals and results instead of time spent on work – so employees don’t feel they are judged for taking time off
  • Investing in technology that helps employees work flexibly – for instance, working from home when sick – such as collaboration software and cloud-based applications
  • Not only putting technology in place to support working from home, but educating employees on how and when to make use of it
  • Setting an example through managers and leaders using sick days and working from home as appropriate

Note to editors:

The research was performed by Kantar, which surveyed 1,246 GB adults (aged 16+) between 23/01/2020 and 27/01/2020.

To calculate numbers of workers, Insight used the latest working population figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), which estimated the UK had 32.9 million people aged 16+ in employment between September 2019 and November 2019.

(1)        26 percent of respondents have taken a sick day in the last year because going to work felt too painful – 26% * 32.9 million = 8.58 million

(2)        37 percent of respondents have come into work while sick in the past year – 37% * 32.9 million = 12.1 million

                                   i.    13 percent came into work sick because they didn’t want to be judged by their employer – 13% * 32.9 million = 4.3 million

                                  ii.    9 percent came into work sick because they didn’t want to be judged by their co-workers – 9% * 32.9 million = 3.1 million

(3)        19 percent of respondents do not work from home from sick because they are not allowed; they don’t have the technology to support it; or people do not trust the amount of work they’d do – 19% * 32.9 million = 6.4 million




About Insight:

Today, every business is a technology business. Insight Enterprises Inc. empowers organisations of all sizes with Insight Intelligent Technology Solutions™ and services to maximise the business value of IT. As a Fortune 500-ranked global provider of Digital Innovation, Cloud + Data Centre Transformation, Connected Workforce, and Supply Chain Optimisation solutions and services, we help clients successfully manage their IT today while transforming for tomorrow. From IT strategy and design to implementation and management, our 11,000 teammates help clients innovate and optimise their operations to run business smarter. Discover more at www.uk.insight.com.


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