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Annie Hayes



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First class service for Royal Mail staff


Soaring absenteeism levels has forced Royal Mail to invent new incentive schemes to promote motivation levels among workers.

The post office group, Royal Mail has experienced severe difficulties in recent years. With million pound losses and a rescinded re-branding exercise, the organisation is looking to improve their public image.

Poor attendance levels are also a cause for concern. As many as 10,000 Royal Mail staff are off work at any one time that is 6.5% of the operational workforce. The costs for absence are escalating and are currently reported to be in the region of a million pounds a year.

Rewarding staff simply for turning up to work may seem extreme, but the organisation says it is simply admitting its failings.

A spokesperson speaking to HRZone commented: “The aim of the scheme is to reward good attendance by our employees. This is an incentive scheme to show our people how much we appreciate good attendance.”

Royal Mail staff with exemplary attendance records will be rewarded with the chance of winning one of 12 weekend breaks. For staff who do not take any sick leave for a period of six months, a Ford Focus worth £12,000 could be theirs.

Royal Mail is currently in talks with unions, the CWU and CMA about the introduction of a new set of standards for sickness reporting and handling.

What’s your view? Will dangling the carrot, help turnaround absenteeism levels at Royal Mail? Share your views in the comments box below.

8 Responses

  1. Too quick to criticise?
    I can’t help but feel that people are being too quick to criticise here (maybe because it is the Royal Mail)?

    For example, I’m sure that the odds will be better than 1 in 170,000, that the project team will know the tax implications of incentives, and that there would be uproar if the post started arriving later than it already does. I’ve known postman who love having their days available to them, so who’s to say?

    That said, I don’t personally think that a raffle-style approach (assuming that’s the planned approach) will motivate enough people, and that a smaller but guaranteed attendance bonus might work better, but I cannot blame them for trying something. And of course this must add to, not attempt to stem the absence of, a robust disciplinary process.

    I view attendance incentives as offering additional rewards for an employees contribution, rather than robbing those who are sick. I work in a sales environment – by incentivising sales are we robbing those who cannot sell?

  2. Will it increase sickness?
    Those who take ‘sickies’ for non genuine reasons are unlikely to see the ‘off chance’ of winning a car as a reason to stop their current practice.

    What if you are knocked down by a hit and run driver and are forced of work (because you are in hospital in a coma)with only two days to go before the draw? What has been the incentive to go to work for the other 363 days in the year?

    Get a grip and take action against those who buck the system. This is more of an incentive to do the job you are paid to do than the 1 in a 170,000 chance of winning a car!!

  3. Rewarding Sick Absence
    The fundamental issue with sick absence in Royal Mail is one of tiredness. How can a business expect its staff to get up at 04:00 over a 6 day week. This in turn leads the member of staff to tiredness and then illness either genuine or imaginary. Royal Mail does have a sophisticated HR system that allows management to monitor sick absence and trends. I can assure HR colleagues that this is used to “manage” absences amonst it’s worst attenders.

    Why in the 21st century do we expect people to work this shift pattern? Could Royal Mail not abolish the Saturday delivery and allow delivery staff to start work later at say 07:00. The majority of the country now has single daily delivery so we are increasingly used to later deliveries. If much of the mail preparation was performed by machine, Royal Mail can sort into delivery walks, then the tedious job of sorting mail by hand would be reduced.

    The outcome – alert and motivated delivery staff & a reduction in sick absence.

  4. Break down your sickness problems
    I’m hoping that the Royal Mail might have some way of reporting their sickness absence, maybe using a HR systen or even via payroll?

    You need to understand the sort of sickness problem you have – so multiple days here and there, or sickness at certain times of year, or long term sickness and then linked to what reasons, etc…

    Once you know this, you can then begin to formulate ideas to tackle it. What do staff representatives think? Take advice and input from staff – involve them in your plans.

    I’m not sure that ‘the chance to win a car’ means much – as someone else commented – I think the government might want a slice of that. Also, such a ‘lottery’ might be offensive to some religions who don’t gamble. Or simply to the unmotivated – you’d take your chance you wouldn’t win it and not improve on attendance management.

    It would be interesting to know what attendance management programme/policy Royal Mail has and how well their staff are trained in implementing it. Is is lipservice or is it enforced?

    Just a few thoughts… best of luck!

  5. First Class service only comes from the heart!
    You can’t make people work willingly by ‘bribing’ them to work. Behaviour is at the root of all ‘ills’ and good behaviour fuelled by positive psychology and emotional intelligence is the only long term way to bring people into work with a willing enthusiasm and commitment to the job at hand. The whole culture at The Royal Mail needs to be influenced by a change of heart, a common dialogue of inspiration and respect for the human value of their 170,000 employees. This change of heart is possible and will ensure that ‘reward prizes’ such as cars and the like are given to deserving excellence within the workforce rather than for ‘forcing people back to work’ by enticement!

    Working on core behaviours for a greater community value at work can give an organisation ways to grow key elements for how ‘well’ a culture behaves. Research from shows that UK business is suffering at a physical and emotional level and ‘burnout’ is prevalent- under current pressures because human beings are not valued as physical and emotional entities, organisations such as The Royal Mail are not recognising what value they have walking into work each day. Work needs to underpin new healthy ways to develop the best behaviour in business, behaviour that is owned both by the organisation and each individual employee through mutual engagement and trust. Put meaning and purpose back into employee’s lives at work and they will come willingly. For new ways of working call Pauline Crawford Contact on 0208 998 7032/07976 512117

  6. Who is motivated?
    When I train my dogs I give them a small biscuit when they have done something that I consider to be good behaviour – walk to heel, come when I call.

    Now, tell me – who is motivated?

    The dogs? Or me?

    Mike Westwood

  7. rewards for non absenteeism
    Why should an employer reward people for not being absent? I thought that was what your salary was for!!!. Persistent absenteeism without any form of medical evidence should be a disciplinary offence.
    As for rewarding people with cars and holidays ( this is almost as silly as paying teenagers to stay on at school)- what is the tax implication of this – I am sure the government would want their slice of this action!!!

  8. Punishing Genuine Sickness???
    Whilst i totally agree that ad hoc sickness is a nightmare to cope with i do not understand how a company can decide to punish employees that are genuinely ill.

    If the only people that are able to win the ‘prizes’ are those that have no sickness at all then how do you not discrimate against people with disabilities who may have the odd day off? Also genuine long-term sickness is unavoidable in any industry, is it fair to penalise thesee people?

    Surely the people that need to be penalised are the types that think that it is okay to have x number of days sick in each year?? As if it is their entitlement to take these days??

    When an employee signs their contract of employment they agree to provide their labour, if they cannot comply with this agreement then it is a disciplinary issue.

    If you were buying a car (entering a contract) and the garage supplied the car as per the terms of the contract, would you then pay them more than the agreed price for fulfilling the contract??? I wouldn’t!!

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Annie Hayes


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