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Absenteeism: excuses are an art form

Posted by Louise Barnfield on October 28, 2008


Gotta love surveys!

CareerBuilder.com’s annual survey on absenteeism is a testament to the creative juices of employees. One wonders to what extent productivity would have benefited had they expended as much thought and creativity in the workplace.

Unfortunately, the survey didn’t follow up with the obvious question: “why?” which could have provided some additional (though perhaps predictable) statistics on the relationship of absenteeism and fake excuses to employee engagement. Presumably, the degree of creativity is inversely proportional to the employee’s job satisfaction.

btw, to all my managers, past present and future, I can honestly say, hand on heart, that I have never and will never take a sick day in order to “catch up on housework”!

So, are there any employees out there willing to own up to a bizarre excuse (real or fake)?…and, more scarily, can any managers out there identify with the 17 percent [who] drove by the employee’s house or apartment?

11 Responses to “Absenteeism: excuses are an art form”

  1. Meg Bear said

    I have a great absent storyAfter having my 2nd child I had a day where I felt badly. Couldn’t prove if I was sick or just really really tired. With two small kids sometimes it’s hard to tell. Anyway, I wanted to call in sick but I couldn’t go home since if I did go home the kids would have attacked me and I would have been just doing my 2nd job vs. getting any rest. Soo I went to see a movie instead, figured it would at least be quiet and dark. I was pretty certain I’d have trouble explaining that the movies in the afternoon was the closest thing to rest I was going to get.

  2. Ariel Ceballos said

    The worst I had heard so far was that of an employee who couldn’t leave home because the door bell was shorted and she feared electrocution if she touched the door knob. But this one from the link above is beyond anything:

    “Employee said he had a heart attack early that morning, but that he was “all better now.”

  3. Vivian Wong said

    On my wedding day, my hairstylist called up his boss saying that he had too much to drink the night before and couldn’t get out of bed. (He was the best guy they had for doing fancy hair and he was very talented.) The stylist had asked for a raise a few days earlier and used this opportunity to prove his importance to the salon (ie no one else can do what he does). The salon owner struggled with my hair that morning (I had an early appointment and no one else was around). We finally settled for a simple French twist. (The stylist was later fired – apparently it had happened more than once!)

  4. Louise Barnfield said

    Poor Vivian, extra wedding stress is the last thing one wants, but knowing you I’ll bet it looked stunning! Where are the pix?
    Meg’s avoidance of extra stress when ill seems eminently justified to me, more brilliant than bizarre! However, I do think the excuse that Ariel heard trumps anything that the survey turned up! :-)

  5. Ariel Ceballos said

    here is a good bounce back: http://www.metacafe.com/watch/yt-qXt8FDWCFI0/calling_in_sick/

  6. SanthiKiran said

    Found some information while browsing… thought this can be shared with you all.

    What are the biggest causes of workplace tardiness?

    Here’s what employees said:

    Twenty-seven percent of employees blamed traffic

    Ten percent pointed to getting their kids ready for school or day care.

    Eleven percent said falling back asleep was the main culprit.

    Other popular reasons: forgetting something at home, feeling sick and misplacing house or car keys.

    One in five admit to making up fake excuses to explain their tardiness.

    Hiring managers provided the following 10 examples of the most unusual excuses employees offered for arriving late to work:

    1. I dreamed that I was fired, so I didn’t bother to get out of bed.

    2. I had to take my cat to the dentist.

    3. I went all the way to the office and realized I was still in my pajamas and had to go home to change.

    4. I saw that you weren’t in the office, so I went out looking for you.

    5. I couldn’t find the right tie, so I had to wait for the stores to open so I could buy one.

    6. My son tried to flush our ferret down the toilet and I needed to tend to the ferret.

    7. I ran over a goat.

    8. I stopped for a bagel sandwich, the store was robbed and the police required everyone to stay for questioning.

    9. A bee flew in my car and attacked me and I had to pull over.

    10. I wet my pants and went home to change.

    Not surprising, Monday is the most popular day for late arrivals, 64 percent of employers say. While the majority of bosses don’t typically question the validity of the reasons provided, 35 percent say most of the time they don’t believe the excuses

  7. Pete Ryan said

    @Ariel — that video clip is great. I wonder if there is an opposite one of people who work at home and are still in their PJs when the boss calls??!! :)

    • jenny said

      Doesn’t matter because if you work at home, it doesn’t matter what you wear as long as you get the job done and look good if you are in a video conference. Working at home gives you more leeway.

  8. zac said

    Santhi,
    Can I get a source for that list. I am writing a book on excuse making.

  9. possibly related post – Dilbert on working at home

    http://miscposts.blogspot.com/2007/12/dilberts-perspective-on-working-from.html

  10. SanthiKiran said

    zac – Find the source at http://www.youngmoney.com/careers/on_the_job/293.

    I hope this will be helpful for you too…

    http://www.cnn.com/2008/LIVING/worklife/06/09/cb.late.excuses/index.html

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