Kronos survey shows UK employees feel least guilt skipping work to watch sport

A new global survey commissioned by The Workforce Institute at Kronos Incorporated and conducted by Harris Interactive reveals that employees around the world have, to varying degrees, called in sick to work over a sporting event. Whether they stayed at home to watch it on television, attended it live, played the sport themselves, or needed a day off after staying up late to watch, sports have a significant impact on attendance at work. The Kronos 'Sidelined by Sports' survey also looks at which sports are most likely to keep employees from their jobs in each region and how guilty – or not guilty – people feel about calling into work sick.

A significant number of UK employees - 24 per cent - admit to calling in sick to work so they could stay at home and watch or attend a sporting event. China led all surveyed regions with 58 percent, while in France only one per cent answered yes. Other countries polled included India with 48 percent, Mexico with 21 per cent, Australia with 19 per cent, Canada with 13 per cent, and the US with 11 per cent.
High numbers of respondents also said that they had called in sick the day after a sporting event because they were up late watching/attending it: 54 percent in China, 41 per cent in India, 23 per cent in the U.K., 19 per cent in Australia, 16 per cent in Mexico, nine percent in Canada, seven percent in the US, and one percent in France.
How did employees feel about calling in sick to watch or play sports? Pretty guilty! The numbers of people who responded that they felt "at least somewhat guilty" were 92 per cent in France, 90 per cent in China, 85 per cent in Mexico, 78 per cent in India, 74 percent in Australia, 71 per cent in the US, 64 per cent in Canada, and only 63 per cent in the UK.
When it came to calling in sick to play a sport themselves, China was again at the top with 49 per cent, followed by India with 38 percent, Mexico with 18 percent, the U.K. with 16 percent, Australia with 10 per cent, Canada with seven percent, the US with five per cent, and France with zero.
Which sports were most likely to cause employees to miss work? In the U.K., Australia, France, and  Mexico, football took the top spot. In the US, it was American football, China was basketball, Canada was hockey, and India was cricket. International Competition was also in the top three sports mentioned for six of the eight regions polled – only the US and India did it not rank as high.  
When it came to what employers could do to prevent employees from calling in sick when they are not actually sick, the top answer in every region was to allow employees to work flexible hours – this tied for first place with allowing employees to work from home in India. Allowing employees to take unpaid leave and establishing a benefit like summer Fridays were the other options chosen most frequently in every region.
Unscheduled absences – such as when an employee calls in sick at the last minute – cost organisations 8.7 per cent of payroll each year as discussed in a recent survey conducted by Mercer and sponsored by Kronos.
Australia, Canada, China, France, India, Mexico, the UK, and the US were represented in the survey.
Joyce Maroney, director of The Workforce Institute, Kronos, said: "Unscheduled absences cost organisations 8.7 per cent of payroll each year – that's a significant cost. This survey indicates that sporting events of all kinds can be a trigger for unscheduled absences. Managers would do well to speak with employees when they know there is a big sporting event coming up to try to determine who is likely to be out. Planned absences cost organisations less because alternatives can be put in place at a less-than-premium price. An automated workforce management solution can enable smarter scheduling and also identify trends and patterns of absenteeism to help organisations be smart about controlling their labour expenses."

Survey Methodology

Global Omnibus: This study was conducted online by Harris Interactive on behalf of Kronos among a total of 7,302 adults aged 16-64 (5,793 of whom are employed full/part time) within Australia, Canada, China, France, Great Britain, India, and Mexico from 11-17 April 2012 via its Global Omnibus product. Figures for age, sex, education, region, income, and Internet usage were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. This data were weighted to reflect the composition of the online adult population.
US: This survey was conducted online within the US by Harris Interactive on behalf of Kronos from 10-12 April 2012 among 2,145 adults ages 18 and older, of whom 1,189 are employed full/part time. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

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