Viewers slam CEO who offers a bonus to staff who don't pull sickies

Art gallery CEO who offers a bonus to employees who don’t take sick days is branded ‘backwards’ by GMB viewers – but others says it will incentivise ‘lazy’ employees

  • James Ryan, from Hertfordshire, gives bonus to staff with perfect attendance
  • Some argued the move pressures sick people to not look after their health
  • Viewers slammed Ryan for forcing people to come into work during pandemic  

A CEO who revealed he gives cash bonuses to staff with perfect attendance has been branded ‘backwards’ and accused of ‘bribing’ employees to ignore their health. 

Speaking from Hertfordshire, James Ryan, CEO of London’s Grove Square Galleries, said on Good Morning Britain today that he offers a bonus to employees who don’t take sick days to motivate his staff to come into work when they are feeling under the weather.

It comes in the wake of a decision by Rome’s council to offer a bonus to rubbish collectors if they show up every working day throughout the Christmas period, while in the UK, Amazon offers a £50 bonus to staff who have perfect attendance. 

Justifying his decision, James said his workforce is more productive now that he’s introduced the cash incentive. 

However, Izzy Obeng, a Ghana-based entrepreneur who set up non-profit mentoring agency Foundervine, argued employees need to feel their mental and physical health is ‘acknowledged’ by their bosses. 

Divided viewers slammed James’ attitude and said they were ‘disgusted’ with his decision, but others said it was a good incentive to motivate ‘lazy’ employees. 

People slammed the CEO’s move, which they said is bribery, but others said it might motivate ‘lazy’ employees 

James said he wants to ‘build the right culture’ in his company and said there is a chance people might end up ‘feeling better’ if they come to work instead of calling in sick.  

‘But if they are really unwell, of course we don’t want them to come in, we don’t penalise people for not attending, it’s more a case of incentivising people and saying, “Come on, we can get through this”,’ he said. 

Susanna argued that by giving people with perfect attendance a cash bonus, James was indeed penalising people for taking sick days.  

‘If they do take a sick day, they don’t get the extra cash boost, so you’re making people come to work if they want to get the money,’ she said. 

James Ryan, pictured, CEO of Grove Square Galleries in London, revealed he offers a cash bonus to employees with perfect attendance

Izzy Obeng, pictured, a Ghana-based entrepreneur, argued people should feel their employers acknowledge their health needs 

Hosts Susanna Reid and Adil Ray, pictured, chaired the debate. Susanna argued James is ‘bribing’ people to come into the office 

She went on to ask James whether he believes there is a widespread issue of people taking sick days when they are not ill. 

‘It’s fair to say we can all hold our hands up and admit we tried to pull a sickie,’ James said.  ‘You get to know people’s character, and if they’ve over-indulged, you know when they trying to put a fast one,’ he added. 

‘When it comes to a culture, we have an occupational therapist who comes in and talks to people. 

‘We’ve had Ollie Ollerton from SAS Who Dares Wins come to the office the other day. He was talking about his life experience,’ he added. 

People said James’ decision was ‘backwards’ and ‘disgusting, especially after the Covid-19 pandemic 

Susanna joked it sounds like James expects his staff to show the same grit as someone like Ollie, who is former Special Forces.  

‘Obviously, we do not want people in the office that are coughing and splattering everywhere,’ the CEO added. 

Izzy, who is based in Accra, said James might have created a culture where employees don’t want to come to work. 

‘it’s really about the type of culture you want to build and what the message is you’re giving to your employees, especially the language “pulling a fast one”,’ she said, quoting James back to him. 

‘Especially as we come out of Covid, and we’re all trying to come back into work and we more in the office, I think if genuinely you are unwell, it’s important your employer gives you the acknowledgement that they care about your wellbeing and that they don’t want you to impact your colleagues,’ she added. 

Izzy said employers need to create a culture where people want to come to work and feel their needs are acknowledged 

‘If you got the right culture within the organisation, and I feel we do at Foundervine for example, people shouldn’t feel they have to pull a sick day if they don’t want to come into work. They should feel they can have an adult conversation with their line manager,’ she went on. 

‘So if you got a lot of people taking sick days, is it the right culture you got where people don’t want to come into work even if they’re not feeling too sick?’

Adil Ray argued lots of small businesses are really suffering from people taking sick days when they get the sniffles or are hangover after the pandemic. 

Izzy agreed it is an important issue, but added, talking about James’ company: ‘Is he treating the cause or is it just a way to bat away the real issue, which is that the organisation or the ways of working internally don’t quite work enough for people to come in enough?’

James defended his business model, saying people at Grove Square Galleries have been more productive since he’s introduced the bonus and that people’s well-being at his company has improved as well. 

‘We consider ourselves to be a family here,’ he added. 

‘If you look at the education system for example, my son is due to have 97 per cent attendance rate.

‘I’m not saying we are teachers, but this is just about following through with that culture as well.

‘And again, some people when they get up in the morning and go into work, they do battle on through and they seem to be fine,’ he added.

He also made a point that his company offers employees full pay rather than statutory sick pay when they are sick.     

But this last precision did not save James from the disapprobation of viewers, who said his decision was ‘disgusting.’

#Paying people extra to come into work sick is backwards thinking. We are in a pandemic! Can’t believe this attitude,’ one said. 

‘Who is this guy? People get sick sometimes. There’s still a pandemic out there but sure get the guy from the SAS in that will help,’ one said. 

‘I don’t agree with bribery to encourage sick people not stay off work. If they’re sick they’re sick and if they can’t be at work I’d rather they stay off to recover rather than pass any sick bugs to the rest of us.  

‘When I was a nanny, I couldn’t pull a sickie as there was never anyone to cover for me,’ another said. 

‘I’m so disgusted at this employer paying employees not to go sick, good grief,’ one said. 

‘I know it can be hard to make the dreaded sick call to your boss to me that’s the hard part letting the team down but you’ve got to show some sort of compassion to your staff if they genuinely are sick. I know some take the mick but it’s their wages they mess with anyway,’ one wrote. 

However, one person did agree with James.  

‘I think the bonus is a great incentive! The lazy gits might actually get up for work,’ another argue,’ they said. 

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