When the COVID-19 pandemic began in early 2020, Riverside Dodge -Chrysler -Jeep-Ram in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, began offering unlimited sick days to its employees.
The message to employees was simple: If you're feeling sick, stay home. Don't feel like you have to come into work because you'll miss out on pay, and risk spreading COVID-19 in the process.
It was intended to be a temporary measure, said Trent Hargrave, general manager at Riverside Dodge, located about 330 miles north of the U.S.-Canada border and 329 miles east of Edmonton. But the dealership saw its absentee rate plummet "almost to zero," he said, because fewer people who otherwise would have spread diseases at work instead stayed home.
"You see it all the time: A person comes in with the sniffles and then they try for a day or two, and then they're sick. So, we lose a day or two from them anyway," he said. "And then three other people the next week start to exhibit those symptoms. So, either they're going to try to tough it out and be less productive, or they're going to spread it around.
"So we said, what if there was just an incentive to not do that?"