In the last months, there has been a lot of talk about GDPR and reports on how much we have been spending to be on the safe side, are astonishing. I had the same feeling years ago with the Y2K when elevators would stop, and airplanes could drop down from the sky. As far as I know, nothing severe happened. Of course GDPR is important, but as said in Almedalen (political event in Gotland Sweden) at the seminar by the Swedish Psychology organization ”Sick from work – what importance has the leadership?” https://youtu.be/i56mrPHjiQs (in Swedish) that despite high sick leave in all of Sweden and public sector specifically, we are talking a lot more about GDPR than how to reduce sick leave.
I think it has to do with money. With the new GDPR legislation the risk for large fines increases and a fear to be exposed as the worst organization. When it comes to sick leave on the other hand, it seems quite ok to be the worst case. That sick leave cost a lot of money, there is no doubt about as Skandia is writing in their report that the cost of sick leave for society in Sweden is 57 billions per year. That should be incentive enough! Read report here: https://www.skandia.se/globalassets/pdf/press-och-media/rapporter-och-debatt/skandia_ifl_samhallsforlusten-av-sjukskrivningar_locked_pages.pdf
As described at the seminar ”Sick from work…” I am also convinced that if you want any result, the leaders of the organization must make the question of reducing sick leave an important task and understand how to do it. If the leadership team is not convinced, nothing will happen. It was exemplified by Scania, making sick leave an important task, when they realized that sick leave had big influence on the productivity and profitability of the company. We see the same correlation all the time, following up on Aino´s customers.
However, the elephant in the room of the seminar was the lack of understanding and a discussion on that follow up on sick leave is crucial to get results. In order to get sustainable results this needs to be built into ”business as usual” this cannot be a short project or quick fix. If you have ever been interested in OBM (Organizational Behavior Management) or Behaviorism (e.g. Skinner or Pavlov), then you know that to get results, you need to follow up. It’s not enough to enforce a law of work environment, it needs follow up. If you don’t, you risk losing the majority part and as much as 80% of the effect. The politician in the seminar was under the impression that people will follow the laws that are implemented.
If we want to reduce sick leave for example in Sweden from one of the highest in OECD, we need to make this a very important task in every leadership team in an organisation. It needs to be monitored and followed up on and there needs to be proactive support for managers and leaders to do this. In order for it to be effective, it should be made automatically, be equal for all and each and every case needs proactive focus. There is no silver bullet and my assessment is that each individual is unique and that each manager needs to be reminded, needs to be followed up on that they take care of each sick leave case and listens to what each individual needs to reduce absence and increase well-being at work. Use modern digital tools and reminders to secure that no one is forgotten and that individuals and managers who think sick leave is unimportant or hard to handle are supported. Start treating humans better than invoices (where we have well defined processes and digital tools to support) and focus a lot, lot more on proactive handling of sick leave than on GDPR.
We cannot afford to wait any longer.
Business Development Manager