Survey: 31% of workers have played hooky (and other tales of absenteeism)

A third of employees have played hooky from work by pretending to be sick, a recent poll found – and there might be a link to job satisfaction in this behavior.

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Would you dare muster up a scratchy throat and a fake cough, all to call up your boss and tell her you can’t make it today because you’re sick (not really) with a cold … no, the flu … wait, a fever? (Protip: the flu is the best excuse to use when calling in sick, a recent survey found).

Sure, why not? A third of people have done so, employee recognition and rewards company O.C. Tanner found in a poll of 1,000 employees nationwide.

The top reasons for taking the bull by the horns and granting yourself a sick day?

  • rest and chilling out: 50%
  • time with family: 30%
  • run errands and take care of personal matters: 21%
  • don’t want to travel to work in foul weather: 17%

Speaking of weather, January (23%) and December (19%) are overwhelmingly the most popular months for playing hooky from work.

But it’s not as if people are faking sick to get out of work all that often. Of the 31% of people who have feigned illness:

  • 68% of them say they do it less than once a year.
  • 12% say they do it once a year.
  • Only 15% say they fake sick every three to six months
  • A rogue 5% say they call in “sick” once a month

With lying comes mixed feelings – 33% of people who feign being sick feel guilty about it, while 26% of those who do it never feel guilty.

There seems to be a link between workplace satisfaction and calling in – or not calling in – “sick.” For example:

  • 34% of people who played hooky agreed that their job was hindering their ability to be happy in other areas of life, while only 17% of people who haven’t played hooky agreed.
  • 40% of people who played hooky said they didn’t trust their senior leaders, while only 24% of people who haven’t played hooky agreed.
  • 45% of people who played hooky said that productivity and the balance sheets were more important to their company than its employees, while only 32% of people who haven’t played hooky agreed.

Some final words of advice: If you’re going to be skipping work, be professional and make sure not to post anything incriminating on social media.

Sheila McClear|is a reporter for Ladders and can be reached at smcclear@theladders.com.