1 in 3 U.K. workers admit to skipping work: Survey

Many ditching work due to boredom, depression
By Alice Baghdjian
|hrreporter.com|Last Updated: 07/19/2011

LONDON (Reuters) — One in three British workers admits to skipping work — mainly because they are bored with their jobs, according to research by global consulting firm PwC.

One-third of 1,190 respondents to a survey conducted by PwC admitted they had taken time off work under false pretences. That prompted the consultants to conduct a second separate survey, which received responses from 1,200 people who all admitted they had skipped work.

More than 80 per cent of those who admitted having skipped work said they offered illness as an excuse for their absence and 61 per cent said they ditched work because they were bored or depressed.

The research also revealed 15 per cent of those who skipped work felt they had been working hard and deserved the time off, whereas 21 per cent called in sick in order to tend to family responsibilities.

"Absenteeism costs British business around 32 billion pounds (C$49 billion) a year, but our findings suggest a large chunk of this loss is preventable. If people are bored and depressed with their jobs, employers need to think creatively how they can get people back in gear," PwC partner Neil Roden said.

He said introducing or enhancing flexible working arrangements could make a difference and ensuring people felt they were not being taken for granted was also important.

"Some 15 per cent of those who provided false excuses felt they deserved the time," Roden said. "With U.K. absenteeism levels double those recorded in the U.S., it is vital British employers get to grips with the problem to ensure the U.K. remains competitive."

Four out of 10 people who shirked work faked symptoms around the office before calling in sick and one-half of all excuses involved gastro-related problems. Inventive excuses included "falling out of the loft" and being "beaten up by a bouncer".

Pet-related explanations for taking unwarranted leave also represented a large proportion of excuses. Dogs featured most frequently, followed by budgerigars and then hamsters.

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