Monday 2 August 2010

Everywhere a cost

COVERING for a colleague's being home with sick kids has become commonplace in Australian workplaces, costing an estimated $453 million in overtime every year, a new study has found.

A survey of 1677 adult workers in 2008 found that one third knew a co-worker whose kid often was sick, and 8 per cent had been negatively affected by that colleague's kids during the previous year.

Researcher Michael Livingston, of the Turning Point Family Planning Centre, said the survey also found that 3 per cent of these employees had worked extra hours to compensate for their exhausted colleagues' lethargy. The average overtime was about 48 hours a year.

In an article published in the Medical Journal of Australia today, Mr Livingston and co-author Caroline Dale said the estimated cost of this overtime was about $453 million annually when average pay rates were considered. The real costs were likely to be significantly higher, they said.
Ok, it didn't read like that; the actual article was here. It was all about the cost of hangovers. Much of the above was edited.

More seriously though: unproductive workers are less likely to get a raise or to be promoted. These costs get internalized through lower wages for unproductive staff. Maybe a bit less in the case of sick kids as employers may expect that to be a passing phase. But the worker who's less productive because he's always coming in to work hung over is going to see consequences in his performance review. Surprisingly, though, drinkers tend to earn more on average than other workers. So they must be more productive when they're not hung over, or most drinkers don't come in to work hung over all that often.

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