While some employees do call into work genuinely sick, some 'pull a sickie' in cases of a hangover or unplanned holiday time. The CBI says absenteeism cost British business £11.6bn in 2002, of which an estimated £1.75bn had no genuine cause.
Lighthouse PR and Crown Computing decided to carry out its own study into bogus time off - why do we do it and how often?
To increase awareness of Crown Computing, specialists in absence management software, on the back of the CBI's research.
Strategy and Plan
Lighthouse commissioned its own survey asking British workers about their attitudes towards taking a 'sickie'. Hangovers were the main reason, followed by fine weather, birthdays and school holidays.
To coincide with a bank holiday - when newsdesks like to have items 'in the bag', and as the day after a bank holiday traditionally suffers from absenteeism - Lighthouse embargoed the research until Tuesday 27 May.
Press releases were sent to regional, broadcast and national media, each with a different spin, including a top ten league table of reasons for absenteeism.
Crucially, the story was sold into Reuters, Press Association and IRN, which feed both national and regional media outlets, and the trade press was targeted on the back of the regional and national coverage.
Measurement and Evaluation
Lighthouse used TNS media monitoring to check broadcast coverage, Media Press Index for cuttings, and Factiva.com to monitor overseas coverage.
Between 27 and 28 May, the Hangover Hotspots campaign generated more than 100 pieces of media coverage outside of the trade press, including The Guardian, The Sun, The Independent and the Daily Mirror, plus pieces on GMTV, BBC's Working Lunch, and RadioFiveLive, as well as overseas coverage.
Crown Computing received a 200 per cent rise in hits to its website on 27 May. Personnel Today senior reporter Ross Wigham, who followed up the story, says: 'I saw the research in a regional paper first, and because it's very much a personnel issue, we could tailor it to our readership. It provided a light way into an issue that HR managers are trying to deal with.
'I found the PR company helpful, but would have liked first go at the story.'