Too sick for work can be a subjective term.
I must admit I’ve pushed the limits and found myself exiled from the office on more than one occasion for coming to work when I should legitimately be at home.
I would say my average yearly sick days would even out at maybe three or four.
That puts me well below recent statistics that say government employees are averaging 12.2 days lost per year.
It’s hard to determine what a sick day constitutes depending on your work. Certainly there are more health-sensitive workplaces than others. So take this with a grain of salt.
Sick day statistics
The Canadian Taxpayers Federation produces an annual report it calls the Labour Day Reality Check. The CTF pull its statistics from Statistics Canada’s Labour Force Survey, with time off qualified as either due to illness or disability.
It qualifies government employees as anyone in public administration at the federal, provincial, territorial and municipal levels as well as First Nations organizations, Crown corporations and all government institutions such as schools, hospitals and public libraries.
The private sector refers to all other employees and self-employed workers.
The trend appears people aren’t getting healthier, be it government or private employees. The number of days lost to illness has steadily climbed across all reporting areas.
When broken down by province, it would appear government employees in B.C. and New Brunswick (see graphs accompanying this column) are the closest to the private sector. But what’s happening in Quebec?!
Is a healthy workplace a factor?
The health of a building certainly has an affect on the health of its occupants. There is plenty of third-party evidence to suggest green workplaces help combat sick days.
Other elements such as air quality, access to natural light and ergonomic comfort we take for granted is having an impact on the well-being of folks during their eight-plus hour workdays, too.
That’s not to imply that government employees are in unhealthy buildings. However, I think it’s fair to say governmental offices may not be located in the newest, most innovative, greenest facilities either.
Sun Life Financial has tracked the health of working Canadians since the inception of its National Wellness Survey in 1997.
It has stated six-in-10 Canadians believe their employers have some responsibility in ensuring their own good health. It has also reported employers saw tangible benefits from wellness programs, including reduced absenteeism.
“Organizations with a highly effective health and productivity programs report 11 per cent higher revenue per employee and 28 per cent greater shareholder return,” according to the Sun Life study.
Regardless of working in the public or private sectors, it would appear there is an opportunity for all employers to take a closer look at the health of their workspaces.