Using Lost Work Days to Create Value

Trillions of dollars in productivity are lost due to illness or personal leave (holiday not counted). In Canada that amount can be calculated on average and Daryl Henry, VP of Southern Alberta at Executrade, promptly pulled out his calculator to do so. The average Canadian in 2010 (most recent data) took an average of 9.1 days of leave per year x the average hourly wage of $23.56 x working population of Canada 14,254,000 = $3,056,000,584. Three trillion is a big number, and for good reason, is an area that organizations and HR has focused to improve with extras such as health passes, lunch yoga, healthy eating programs and so forth. The question for recruiting is how to consciously use lost days to present a better offer for both candidates and clients, and drive that added value to the industry and gender levels. Let me provide a couple of examples to demonstrate.

A candidate in Alberta will be offered a position with Acme. We know that Alberta average lost days are 8.1 (a full day below the Canadian average suggesting a strong production advantage in Alberta). The 8.1 days are subdivided into illness leave (6.2 days) and personal/family leave (1.9 days). As an expert recruiter we can acknowledge these needs and recommend that Acme build in a couple of personal/family leave days to showing and building goodwill and flexibility of Acme. Acme on average will lose these days of productivity anyway; in this way they will be able to glean some benefit through employee retention, contract value, and intrinsic motivation. Likewise for the candidate this is added value that can be used as part of a negotiation and addressing some of the needs that will come.

Of course as experts we can do better than that. Let’s assume that the Candidate is female and Acme is a transportation company. For women in this industry the average is 9.7 days compared to men with an average of 5.6 days of days lost (4.1 days difference between genders). Scott Stoppler, President and COO of Executrade cautioned, “We know that this type of information may lead an organization to be biased in selection of a male over a female candidate, making this a critical consideration for recruiters to be aware of in order to ensure fair hiring practises and ethical business practises.” However, this data can help identify the areas of added value for each candidate gender in negotiation of an offer. The female average is clearly higher for leave days and negotiation can take this into consideration when creating equity and addressing candidate value. For men, there may be an opportunity to find something of greater value instead of providing a standard number of leave days that may not be used.

Promoting the law of averages for an organization is not recommended nor is suggesting that standardization and equity among all employees does not add value. Deborah Hill, Sale and Marketing Recruitment Consultant at Executrade, suggested that all organisations want to be better, and certainly better than average. Deborah stated, “In helping our clients produce the right offer and drive for continual improvement we need to ensure we are not presenting averages, but those solutions that create value based on the information.” Suggesting an offer have 9.7 days of leave built in would be one approach but most likely the wrong one. Customise but acknowledge the needs. For example, in Western Canada the data suggests that Alberta is consistently lower in most categories by about one full lost day. This is not only an advantage in Alberta labour productivity but is a special consideration that can be used in selling recruitment services as well in negotiating offers on behalf of the candidate and client. This is where we as specialists add customized value.


Simplicity would suggest, if you want a job done right, ask a specialist.




Your Recruitment Specialists




Deborah Hill:

Daryl Henry:

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