In sickness and in health

Actually, let’s just call it in health.  As might know, in Canada (British Columbia in particular); there’s no legal requirement to provide your employees sick days.  Many companies do as a matter of course, though they often limit the sick days to a set number – 5 being the most common that I’ve come across.  Otherwise, if you fall ill you either suck it up and go into the office or take a vacation day and heal.

At Starlit Citadel, our salaried employees have an unlimited number of sick days.   Sounds generous doesn’t it?  It’s actually not – it’s purely a matter of hope and practicality.

Hope

The hope is that by allowing employees to take the time off that they need to recover; they do not become plague monkeys and take out the entire office.  I say hope since as last week showed, it doesn’t always play out that way and we can still all fall ill.

Practicality

There are numerous studies out there that show that providing employees sick days (unlimited in particular); you improve office morale and actually increase productivity.  It’s better to have an employee working at 100% all the time with a few days off rather than 60 – 70% for 2 to 3 weeks because they are struggling with the flu.

In addition, never forget to discount the plague monkey effect.  An employee who is sick who comes in can easily pass on that bug to others in the office, increasing the number of sick days / lack of productivity all across the board.  Again, taking last week as an example – we had to shut the entire office down on Thursday as we were all sick.  That’s a huge loss in productivity and most of us are still under the weather too.

Abuse

One of the greatest concerns when you offer an open-ended policy like this one to employees is the concern of abuse.  It’s a valid concern, but one that can be somewhat misleading.  My view is simple – if you aren’t hiring people who are passionate / dedicated about their work, then you run a danger of abuse. So don’t hire them.

I know, it’s easier said than done.  For us we have the advantage of being in a fun industry; so finding passionate individuals is less difficult than say, a fast food chain.

Of course, there’s also the opposite side of the equation.  If they are too dedicated, like Troy, sometimes they’ll still come in when they shouldn’t and then all your good policies get put to waste.  That then is a failure on the management’s part for not enforcing the spirit of the policy.