Case study – Sickness and Rewards

Case study – Sickness and Rewards


A small clothing business employing 45 employees is having problems with sickness absence. Staff are phoning in sick for all kinds of reasons, and collective absenteeism was in the order of 7%.


Being concerned, the firm decided to reward positive behaviour rather than punitive approaches, punishing bad or negative behaviour. Consequently, a note went round to all staff informing them that anyone who hadn’t taken any self-certified sickness absence was entitled to an extra week’s holiday the following year. Needless to say, the plan misfired.


Genuine hard-working employees who’d had a day or two off as the result of real illnesses and injuries now found themselves slighted – tarred with the same brush as malingerers. Having had a day or two off with genuine ailments, good staff now used holiday entitlement rather than sickness days, so as not to miss out on the additional weeks holiday that everyone else was getting.


The firm’s management team met to review the policy. Acknowledging the weakness of the plan, another note informed staff that they would still get their extra weeks holiday provided that all absences were covered by a doctor’s certificate. In no time at all the firm became swamped with doctor’s certificates. Those with genuine illnesses and injuries complained about having to visit the doctor and often paying for a certificate to prove that their condition was real. For the malingerers, payment for a doctor’s certificate simply validated a false position.


You are the line manager and these changes has created anger and frustration among your staff members. You now have two issues to address; the bad feeling and unrest amongst the staff and the sickness problem has still not been solved.



As line manager you are greatly concerned and report the staff’s frustration to senior management. They have asked you to compile a formal report (1500-2000 words) that clarifies the situation with some suggestions as to how you might address the problem. Undertake some research on motivation theories. Note that there is no right or wrong answer.


Marking Scheme Task 1 (25% of overall mark)

Depth, criticality and general quality of content: 60%

Engagement with the literature, theory, referencing: 30%

Report format, presentation of document: 10%


This task is to be completed as an INDIVIDUAL effort