Sick Days Are a Generational Issue

Do you use all of your sick days? If you’re a people leader, do you positively acknowledge when your employees do?

This is a generational issue.

A recent article in The Wall Street Journal addressed the so-called “problem” of younger employees using up all of their sick days.

According to the article, employees between ages 25 and 34 (a.k.a. older Gen Zs and Millennials) are taking sick days most often, with their use rates jumping 45 percent from before the pandemic.

My take?

This is a good thing, not a problem.

I’m pretty shocked that after a GLOBAL PANDEMIC, there is any criticism of people staying home when they are not feeling well, physically or mentally.

There is a mental health crisis in this country, especially among young people, and sometimes taking a day off is critical.

And we certainly don’t need people with potential cases of Covid or the flu coming into workplaces.

Frankly, if companies don’t want employees to take sick days, they shouldn’t offer them.

Many Gen Zs and Millennials tell me they are baffled by the attitude of older generations who imply there is an “unwritten rule” (always a red flag) that you’re really not supposed to take all of your sick leave.

The article also points out that many people use sick days for family care as well, which makes sense when so many employers offer little to no family leave.

I prefer the more inclusive term “personal days” to encompass all the reasons someone might need a day off.

There is a huge multigenerational leadership opportunity here. Younger employees will use the days off they are given and the rest of us should, too. Leaders who promote wellbeing will attract the workforce of today and tomorrow.

As one employer says in the article, “You get such loyalty and buy-in from your team when you show them you care.”

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Lindsey is a globally recognized career and workplace expert and the leading voice on generational diversity. She has spoken for more than 300 audiences including Google, Goldman Sachs, Estee Lauder, Stanford and Wharton. Lindsey is the author of four career and workplace advice books, and her insights have appeared in media outlets including The TODAY Show, CNBC, NPR, the Harvard Business Review and the Wall Street Journal.


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