I was listening to a presentation being given by a timekeeping vendor. Within the demonstration, a report was run providing a detail of when people decided to take sick days, and the report stated that the large majority of sick days were taken on Mondays and Fridays. Our brilliant analyst noted that there was a high degree of employees in almost any company that abused their sick days to create long weekends. His system would help the company identify these people and fix the problem.
Intrigued, I decided to look into my own timesheets (I’m a consultant, so I have a long history of records). Turns out, I pretty much took 80% of my sick days on Mondays and Fridays. Considering I’m a person who nobody actually cares if I take a couple hours here and there (I do work 3000 hours a year after all), I’m not anywhere close to lying about sick time. These are not days that I’m “sick” but days that I’m actually SICK.
I began to wonder why I tend to get sick during weekends and on vacations. A friend gave me some good insight. High performing people have bodies that tend to know when there is downtime coming and can force illnesses into those times to create rest. Now I have no idea if this is true, but the proportion of time I’ve been sick during vacations versus work time is completely off kilter.
We use analytics to create truths (ok, trends) from which we extrapolate “facts.” Unfortunately these facts coming from quantitative data are about as good as anything you get with statistics – you can create a version of truth for everything. You can find a correlation for your best employees and show how they abuse the sick time system to create 5 long weekends a year. (I just took Friday and Monday – I had a 104 degree fever). There might be people who went to Las Vegas. And I guess it was true… I was laying in bed fairly drugged up.