Duvet Day, yay or nay?

Let’s face it, life just doesn’t get any easier. We are collectively working longer hours than ever before, juggling busier working lives and family commitments. What with the prospect of health issues left right and centre (dicky knee, anyone?!), eternal traffic jams and seemingly endless queues for our daily shot of Skinny Cortado I’m surprised we even make it through the week!

Some days we just want and need to STOP. Turn off the alarm. Stay in bed. Rest. Relax and recharge. So why not? Why not just pull a Duvet Day?

On the face of it, Duvet Days make a whole heap of sense. Who hasn’t experienced a nightmare day with an unexpected childcare crisis, boiler breakdown, unintended hangover from a spontaneous night out (or is that just me?) or even just felt a general sense of burn out, stress or seasonal weariness?

So, if we accept that this is just an inevitable fact of life, why not embrace it and make a proactive effort to improve the lives of yourself and your employees by introducing a Duvet Day Policy at your workplace? Honestly, there are lots of compelling business reasons to do so:

– It can help thwart the underhand ‘sickie’ culture
– It can reduce stress levels and ultimately reduce unplanned sick days
– It ties staff in to a positive workplace culture
– Encourages honesty and transparency
– Promotes greater staff retention
– There are likely to be less instances of genuine disciplinary and grievances with management over ‘legitimacy’ of absences
– It is a great recruitment tool as it differentiates your business from competitors in the marketplace
– It presents your company brand in a positive light to potential customers; it shows you care about people as human beings and are forward thinking

HBOS long ago launched an innovative late notice shift swapping scheme in its call centres, which halved its sickness rates in the first six months AND increased customer service standards exponentially – brilliant business result!  Ah, but this approach wouldn’t work for us, I hear you say –‘ it wouldn’t suit our business model’. Well the great news is that one size needn’t fit all. There is tremendous scope to flex the general concept of a duvet day to suit your own specific business needs.  The DVLA, for example, runs its own hybrid scheme where it allows staff to take ‘short notice’ days from their generous holiday allowance, no questions asked. Conversely, staff with 100% attendance can win an extra day’s leave. Nice!  In fact, in a survey carried out by LTSB, staff said that they valued a work life balance more highly than a pay rise! – so could a Duvet Day Policy even have a Day 1 impact on your bottom line???!!

Of course there is no such thing as a magical panacea. You are likely to have disaster on your hands unless your Duvet Day Policy is well thought-through, actively managed and clearly communicated:

– How would your business handle understaffing if your entire workforce called in a Duvet Day together, or what about managing a key project deadline or maintaining customer service levels?
– How would you handle crunch days such as the day before Xmas and the morning after the World Cup Final?
– In fact, how would you ensure that staff didn’t abuse the scheme generally?

There is also a powerful argument that Duvet Day Policies are just a reactionary measure; and that it would surely be more effective to identify likely causes of absence at work and work to reduce these factors. After all, surely it is a negligent employer that isn’t always take active steps to ensure the general health and wellbeing of its staff?

I say, you should and absolutely can, be doing both – business owners and managers should be taking proactive responsibility for managing the wider health and wellbeing of their employees, as well as the reactionary solutions such as Duvet days. Surely it makes business sense? So, I have three final questions for you:

1. Do you pride yourself as a business innovator?
2. Would you like your HR policies to make a positive ££ impact on your bottom line?
3. Would you like to reduce absence costs and increase recruitment and retention KPI’s?

If you’ve answered yes to any of these questions then you really should drop me a line or 07766741738, and let’s together make a plan for action!  As a nice tidy coincidence, this week is National Work Life Week – what better time for employers to focus on well-being at work and work-life balance!