As the company describes, the top 15 excuses given on National Sickie Day are “well and truly ridiculous.” This includes a flock of ducks preventing someone from escaping their driveway and an ex-partner burning their clothes.
“Employees get out of work by using some outrageous excuses,” Shaun Bradley, director of people at Perkbox, told Real Business. Similarly, Vicki Hughes, MD of Fugu, suggested they read more like an in-joke – “they’re certainly laughable.”
Both, however, added that bosses need to look at the bigger picture when given such excuses. Not everyone takes time off because they want to watch Game of Thrones – sometimes they just lack motivation or a goal to work towards.
According to Chris Toon, Dropbox’s teams and data scientist, people give into loafing when they require clarity. “Without clear roles and objectives, we are drawn towards laziness and free riding,” he explained. It was the focus of a Dropbox study, which found that nearly three quarters of 2,000 UK workers don’t work to the best of their ability even once a week.
“If an employee is consistently unmotivated and dispassionate, it will soon become apparent in ways such as the excuses listed below,” Bradley added. “Those people definitely lost their sense of purpose.” The sentiment was echoed by Andy Crisp, associate director at Cohesive: “Sometimes people just can’t face the idea of work. It’s a serious issue in itself.”
Alex Buttle, director of Motorway.co.uk, also points out that sometimes these things just happen! The truth is, after all, stranger than fiction. However incredulous a reason to miss work might seem, it’s important not to jump to conclusions and assume an employee is making something up.
“My co-director missed a day’s work because he fell into a canal on his way to the office,” he reminisced. “His bike skidded into the canal and he thought he was going to drown, only to discover the water came up to his knees! A jogger pulled him out, and he had to be checked for Weil’s disease. The bike was fine.”
The point Buttle seeks to make is that while his co-director can laugh about it now, it was a horrible experience. And think what you want, there’s some pretty imaginative minds at work here.
“Some of the excuses on the list would make a homework eating dog blush,” Crisp said. “For example, one of the top 15 sickie day excuses alludes to a lion being in the near vicinity. But if that person was able to extract themselves from that peril there’s a role for them in our creative team.”
That’s one way to handle the situation. If a member of staff called you on National Sickie Day with one of Citation’s top 15 silly excuses, what would your response be? PR Agency One MD James Crawford and Prestige Pawnbrokers MD James Constantinou give their hilarious take on the situation.
(1) There’s a lion in my garden
Constantinou: Next you’ll be asking me to send you on a lion tamer course.
Crawford: Are you OK? Have you taken drugs? Hallucinogens can be dangerous, but we can recommend a good counsellor. The mental health of our staff is important, and if someone came to me with such an abstract excuse, then I would do everything I could to signpost them towards professional help.
(2) My gran passed away (she was alive and serving porridge in one of the business’ sites)
Constantinou: Was her twin a good cook?
Crawford: Sorry to hear about your grandma. We have a compassionate leave policy that you can refer to. It’s such a shock seeing as though she was serving porridge in one of the business’s sites until very recently (**calls HR**).
(3) My teeth are too white
Constantinou: Don’t worry, when I catch up with you they wont be around for long.
Crawford: Teeth can never be too white when you work in PR, and a winning smile can be the difference between success and failure.
(4) It’s too cold to leave my house
Constantinou: Don’t you work from home?
Crawford: I thought you were a northerner? Just put on your big coat. You’ll be fine. If you are a southerner, please stay at home and let me know when the weather warms up enough for you.
(5) I had a one night stand and don’t know where I am
Constantinou: You’re laying next to me.
Crawford: I’ve actually had someone give me this excuse. Depending on how senior they are and whether or not they deserve an impromptu bonus, I might be inclined to reward their honesty with the chance of taking a discretionary day off. After all, some people don’t strike it lucky that often.
(6) I fell out of bed and sprained my ankle
Constantinou: But you sleep on the floor?
Crawford: Oh dear, get to A&E and have an x-ray. Are you OK? Do you need me to call you an Uber? I’ll get the bill.
(7) A fortune teller told me I should stay at home today
Constantinou: They should have told you that you were going to be unemployed shortly.
Crawford: My fortune teller told me to issue a written warning today.
(8) My ex-partner set all my clothes on fire
Constantinou: You should have been in them.
Crawford: What? Have you called the police? I know a good divorce lawyer too.
(9) I contracted food poisoning from a chocolate bar I ate last night
Constantinou: You might be allergic to bulls••t.
Crawford: Get well soon. See you when you feel better.
(10) It’s my boyfriend’s, hamster’s funeral
Constantinou: Wasn’t it your hamster’s boyfriend’s funeral last week?
Crawford: Take it off as a day’s holiday. I think you know this isn’t covered in our compassionate leave policy.
(11) I fractured my finger playing a game of snap
Constantinou: Be careful you don’t break your wrist signing on.
Crawford: Get some painkillers. I’ll see you in the office for 9am.
(12) A flock of ducks have blocked me in my drive
Constantinou: I know you live in a flat though.
Crawford: Wait there, I’ll be round with the shotgun. I love a bit of roast duck for my Sunday lunch.
(13) My split ends are horrendous, I need an emergency haircut
Constantinou: That’s the least of your problems.
Crawford: Get a hat and sort it out after work or on the weekend.
(14) I woke up in a good mood and didn’t want to ruin it
Constantinou: I’ve just replaced you so you can stay happy.
Crawford: If your line manager says it is OK to take a tactical short notice holiday, then I am fine with it. Just make sure your work is well briefed for the rest of the team to pick up.
(15) I accidentally got on a flight to Spain
Constantinou: Lovely…apply for permanent residency.
Crawford: I have deliberately terminated your employment.
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