Absenteeism at work: 3 ways it’s hurting your business

Absenteeism at work: 3 ways it’s hurting your business

All too frequently I hear employers complain that absenteeism at work is rife and that so-and-so is not at their desk again.

My first question to them is – if that is the case – do they actually have a handle on the extent of absenteeism?

Or do they simply have a vague notion that there is some problem but they’re not sure? In the majority of cases, their response is the latter.

The fact is that absenteeism is more than just nuisance value. It is costly and if left unchecked will become a major and costly expense.

We must accept that there are often legitimate reasons for employees being absent. For example, illness, bereavement and other emergencies. However, there are equally other forms of absence that are not legitimate.

Absenteeism at work may manifest itself in a variety of ways. It can be seen as a withdrawal symptom as a result of excessive workload over an extended period, stress in the workplace, a result of unacceptable management behaviour or just poor working conditions.

However, it is no secret that some employees will almost ensure that they use up their sick leave entitlement by hook or by crook. For this reason I draw a distinction between what is referred to controllable absence versus uncontrollable absence.

Research shows that absenteeism can add as much as 25% to your wage bill. Remember, the cost of absenteeism is not only the cost of sick leave or the person who simply does not pitch for work. It also includes “hidden costs” such as:

  • Cost of hiring replacement labour
  • Loss of productivity
  • Unhappiness of staff at work who might have to pick up the slack

The bottom line is that in order to manage absence you have to measure it to identify whether it occurs

  • throughout the company
  • only in certain departments
  • in specific job categoriesmostly on certain days of the week or month
  • only in respect of certain employees

Clearly, to manage this you will need to introduce a system to record incidents to begin with in order to enable detailed analysis.

For those employers with a time and attendance system already in place, it will be easier than for those who will need to do it manually.

So what actions will be required from you?

  • Develop and introduce a policy on absenteeism
  • Set aside time to deal with it
  • Keep accurate records
  • Look for patterns of absenteeism
  • Look for warning indicators
  • Act swiftly and decisively
  • Conduct interviews after absence incidents

Pro-Act’s consultants are able to help you introduce techniques to measure, monitor and take corrective action to reduce the cost of absenteeism at work.

Contact us for more information