duvet days good for businessWith sick days and staff absences costing UK businesses nearly £30 billion pounds a year, ‘duvet days’ may end the age-old problem of ‘throwing a sickie’. But what are duvet days, and how can they work for you?

What are duvet days?
The concept of duvet days took off across the UK and US, where enterprises began allocating employees a certain number of days (traditionally up to four per year) built into their annual holiday entitlement.

Employees could call up anytime to take a legitimate day off work for no reason, and without giving prior notice.

This aimed to replace the lame excuses normally given for ‘sickies’. The 2010 CBI/Pfizer Absence and Workplace Health survey revealed that 15% of absences weren’t genuine, equating to 27 million working days lost and costing the overall economy £2.52 billion.

Snooze, you lose?

It doesn’t look that way. With longer working hours and the odd minor illness (cough-hangover-cough) rearing their heads, they’re a popular option on both sides. The duvet day strategy seems to work.

Other sectors have incorporated their own takes on duvet days. The head teacher at a Lincolnshire primary school made the news for budgeting in duvet days for teachers – but pointed out that it cost less to implement than it did to hire new staff.

Considering incorporating duvet days
It’s a simple equation: flexibility = increased productivity and more dedicated employees. It demonstrates that you understand your team’s needs, and gives them a sense of autonomy. They can manage their life, their work, and create a sense of balance in their physical and mental health.

Halifax Bank of Scotland (HBOS) halved their number of sick days and raised their service level by a whopping 93%. Those results speak for themselves – but, like them, make sure to set tight parameters. They allow a maximum of 30 out of their 650-plus people to take duvet days on any one day.

There’s no one-size-fits-all policy here, however. How would duvet days work for a business of fewer than 100 or 50 people? How can the workload be managed better to allow for this?

There’s no way around it: unauthorised absences and sick days cost you money, and taking a rigid approach to days off could cost you talent in the long run. How much would it cost to buffer your business against them – and how much could you stand to gain?

http://www.mas.org.uk/uploads/articles/CBI Pfizer%20Absence%20Report%202010