Just Sick of the Office

Mental health days. Coughing kids. General stress or distress.

Most of us have called in sick, even when we haven't been. But if you're working for a company where employee morale is poor, you're twice as likely to take a day off unexpectedly than if you work for a place where workers' attitudes are good, according to CCH Inc.'s survey on "unscheduled absenteeism." It found that nearly two-thirds of workers skip out for family or personal needs, a sense of entitlement or stress. "Only 35 percent are actually sick," said CCH's Lisa Franke.

Organizations that rated their employee morale as fair or poor reported that 3.2 percent of all worker hours were unscheduled time off, versus 1.5 percent at companies with better morale. That's about eight sick or personal days for a full-time worker in a low-morale environment -- compared with fewer than four at companies with higher morale.

"[Bad] morale is a silent drain on resources and productivity," Franke said.

Companies with poor morale also reported increasing absenteeism in the past two years -- and nearly half expect more lame excuses in the next two years.

-- Vickie Elmer