November 21, 2023
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Most people have days every now and then where they’d simply rather curl up in bed than get up and go to work. Progressive organizations understand this, and work it into their leave policy with duvet days.
If this is your first time seeing the term duvet day, you’ll probably have a lot of questions, from what a duvet day actually means to why it would be a good idea for companies to allow this. Keep reading and we’ll answer all these questions, plus more.
A duvet day is a day off specifically designated for days where you don’t feel like coming in to work.
It’s essentially a “no questions asked” day off, where an employee can take a day off without prior notice or providing a reason, and without losing pay.
Duvet days are usually a separate entitlement from vacation, sick leave or mental health days. Sometimes they’ll be logged in together with personal days, but more often they are a specific, separate leave type.
Some might read the definition of a duvet day and think that just sounds like a no-show from work. So how is taking a duvet day different from other unscheduled, unexplained absences?
The main difference is that the duvet day allowance is explicitly written in the employee handbook or leave policy, and that there is a limited allowance.
Companies that allow duvet days typically allow just one or two duvet days per year. There’s a spoken agreement that you can take one or two days off like this per year. If it becomes a more regular thing, then you need to have the absenteeism talk.
The key idea behind a duvet day is that there doesn’t have to be a reason. It’s “no questions asked”. The employee doesn’t need to be sick, they don’t need any kind of responsibility or commitment to attend to. It’s just a day off because you feel like it.
Duvet days are generally taken because someone feels exhausted, overwhelmed or simply just “over it”. But again, there doesn’t need to be a good reason (and managers/team leaders shouldn’t ask for one). It could be that the person got drunk the night before and is feeling it the next day, or that they want to catch lunch and hang out with a friend from out of town.
If the allowance is there, it can be taken, no reason necessary.
It might seem like a crazy idea, letting employees decide not to come in without any notice or explanation.
But there are actually some big benefits for the business in implementing duvet days, as long as the duvet day allowance is kept small. You don’t want to let employees take duvet days all the time.
Here are some of the top reasons for allowing duvet days.
Duvet days are a particularly good tool in the fight against employee burnout.
There are often days where we feel like we’re at breaking point. When we force ourselves to come into work, the problem only compounds and becomes worse.
Taking a duvet day can be enough to reset your mindset and get a day of rest that lets you come back to work the next day fresh.
A short break like this can be a big boost to mental health, particularly when an employee is struggling with rising work-related stress, anxiety or depression.
It gives employees the opportunity to switch off and focus on themselves, instead of slugging through another day in the office.
Companies may have a specific allowance for mental health days, separate to duvet days. But both are a powerful way to boost mental and emotional wellbeing.
People often use sick days for the same reason as duvet days. We don’t feel up to coming in, so we call in sick, or perhaps ask last-minute to take annual leave.
Duvet days allow employees to retain these leave types for when they need them in the future, and not have to lie or make something up to get a day off.
Employees who are allowed to take a duvet day here and there are going to be happier in their jobs. It’s an attractive benefit, which acts as a motivator, improves work-life balance and also avoids the need to come to work on days where they just don’t want to be there.
Duvet days are for the kind of days where someone simply wouldn’t be productive if they came into the office.
Taking this day off to stay at home, rest, switch off and do something the person enjoys allows them to come back and perform closer to 100% the next day. Whereas if they had come into work feeling not up to it, the next day they’ll likely still be struggling, and will have a more prolonged drop in productivity and performance.
When you take a duvet day, you often don’t want to be around people (at least not at the workplace). Coming in to work on these days can lead to interpersonal issues and negativity that degrades company culture.
Allowing duvet days also signals that you value and care about your employees, which helps build positive energy within the workplace.
Employee benefits like duvet days are another way you can offer value to current and prospective employees. Coupled with the fact that it shows you care about people in your team, it can be the difference when it comes to retaining your best people and attracting new talent.
Duvet days are still a relatively novel concept in the modern workplace. They’re not as ingrained as sick days, or even mental health days.
So is it a good idea to offer employees duvet days?
In our opinion, yes. Though there are some situations where you don’t want to allow this (which we’ll cover shortly), for the most part there are far more pros than cons.
It’s beneficial long-term to do things that show you care about your employees and build a positive company culture. If it means a short-term inconvenience of having to cover for someone who takes a duvet day, that’s definitely worth it.
Duvet days also improve employee well-being and alleviate or prevent burnout, which keeps your employees performing at a higher level. They usually provide a net gain to productivity.
Happy, healthy and motivated employees perform better, collaborate better, and are more likely to stay in your business instead of jumping ship for another opportunity. Duvet days help with this.
There are certainly some issues that come with duvet days, which you should consider before integrating them in your business.
If someone’s job is crucial to the business, and that job is not going to be done if they take a day off without notice, it might not be the best idea. For example, if you risk losing a client or a contract if one of your employees isn’t around.
Anything with a single point of failure should an employee not turn up shouldn’t have duvet days. Though ideally you should avoid creating the situation where one person’s absence can have such a big impact in the first place.
There might be certain times of the year when having all hands on deck is important (e.g. holiday season in retail businesses), so you might want to block certain dates off for duvet days.
Also keep in mind that, in businesses that already have culture issues, duvet days may present bigger problems. Other employees generally will have to pick up the slack when someone takes a day off, so it can cause unrest if they learn someone didn’t come in so they could stay in bed and watch Netflix or play video games.
You want to have a positive, understanding culture in place already to really get the benefits of offering duvet days.
It also goes without saying that things can get messy if you let people take duvet days all the time. This should be limited to a few days per year maximum, so that they’re only taken when really needed.
Duvet days are a powerful tool, when used correctly. Here’s are some tips on incorporating duvet days in your team with minimal disruption.
All in all, duvet days are a good thing, if your business can accommodate periodic absences without notice.
It’s just important that you limit and record employee duvet days to avoid abuse. A leave tracking software like Flamingo allows you to do this. Just create duvet days as a leave type, set your desired limit, and employees will be able to notify you that they’re taking a duvet day just by logging into the web app or your workspace.
The app will record this, and inform any key people so you can cover your bases and keep things moving. The employee, meanwhile, will be back the next day fresh and healthy with a full tank once again.
Flamingo makes managing your team’s paid time off a breeze.