Stress and Burnout can be Funny ... Sometimes

Oct 29, 2010

CIO Update Staff

It being the day after Halloween there's probably a couple people out today with sick kids that ate too much candy last night. Or, it could be they ate too much candy on purpose just so they could feel lousy and call off sick today.

CareerBuilder's annual survey on absenteeism, the List of the Most Unusual Excuses for Calling in Sick, shows 29 percent of workers have played hooky from the office at least once this year; calling in sick when they were well. Because of the weak economy, 27 percent of employers think they are seeing an increase in bogus sick calls. The nationwide survey was conducted between August 17 and September 2, 2010 and included more than 3,100 workers and more than 2,400 employers.

While the majority of employers said they believed their workers when they say they're feeling under the weather, 29 percent reported they have checked up on an employee who called in sick and 16 percent said they have fired a worker for missing work without a proven excuse. Of the employers who checked up on an employee, 70 percent said they required the employee to show them a doctor's note. While half called the employee at home, 18 percent had another worker call the employee and 15 percent drove by the employee's house or apartment.

"Six-in-ten employers we surveyed said they let their team members use sick days for mental health days," said Rosemary Haefner, vice president of human resources at CareerBuilder. "If you need to take some time away from the office, the best way not to cause yourself more stress is to be open and honest with your manager."

"Just not feeling like going to work" is the No.1 reason why workers said they called off sick with made-up excuses followed by "just needing to relax" and "catching up on sleep". Other reasons included doctor's appointments, needing to run personal errands, and plans with family and friends.

But there are some pretty ingenious (if you can call it that) excuses, too. Many are funny, some are odd and some are just downright stupid. But, hey, not everyone at your company is a rocket scientist (unless your work at NASA, of course).

When asked to share the most unusual excuses employees gave for missing work, employers offered the following real-life examples:

  • An employee said a chicken attacked his mom.
  • The employee's finger was stuck in a bowling ball.
  • The Employee's hair transplant had gone bad.
  • The employee fell asleep at his desk while working and hit his head, causing a neck injury.
  • The employee said a cow broke into her house and she had to wait for the insurance man.
  • The employee's girlfriend threw a Sit 'n Spin through his living room window.
  • The employee's foot was caught in the garbage disposal.
  • The employee called in sick from a bar at 5 p.m. the night before.
  • The employee said he wasn't feeling too clever that day.
  • The employee had to mow the lawn to avoid a lawsuit from the home owner's association.
  • The employee called in the day after Thanksgiving because she burned her mouth on a pumpkin pie.
  • The employee was in a boat on Lake Erie, ran out of gas and the coast guard towed him to the Canadian side.

About the Survey

This survey was conducted online within the U.S. by Harris Interactive on behalf of CareerBuilder, a global human capital solutions and resources company, 2,457 U.S. hiring managers and 3,125 U.S. workers (employed full-time; not self-employed; non-government) ages 18 and over between August 17 and September 2, 2010 (percentages for some questions are based on a subset, based on their responses to certain questions). 

Tags: career, morale, CareerBuilder, burnout, Stress,

0 Comments (click to add your comment)
Comment and Contribute

Your comment has been submitted and is pending approval.



 (click to add your comment)

Comment and Contribute

Your name/nickname

Your email


(Maximum characters: 1200). You have characters left.