Absenteeism in the Workplace
Sarah is a young girl who works for an insurance company. Her daily job responsibilities involve conducting random quality checks of the processed work and settlings claims on customer’s request. The mundane work gets monotonous, and one day she decides to excuse herself from work and engage in doing something interesting. She fails to inform her superiors of her unscheduled day off. But, little did she know that her absenteeism from the workplace can actually put her company in a loss.
Absenteeism, as the term suggests, simply means failing to show up for work when you are scheduled to be there. The effects of absenteeism are directly proportional to decreased productivity. The company, eventually, is at a loss trying to cover up the indirect cost involved to hire temporary staff, and pay employees for overtime.
As absenteeism is a fast emerging problem across the globe, it’s a challenge to come up with solutions on how to reduce it. Before we discuss the solutions to this problem, let us delve into its causes.
- Personal Attitude: The attitude one carries to work says a lot about the person. Employees with strong ethics will respect their work and appreciate the contribution they make to their companies. Such employees will not engage themselves in taking unscheduled off. On the other hand, employees with very low or no work ethics are undisciplined and have a lot of integrity and behavioral issues. Since, they feel no obligation towards the company, absenteeism comes easily to them.
- Age: The younger employees are often restless. They want to spend time with their friends and have fun, rather than being tied down with work responsibility. This lack of ownership often leads them to take unauthorized time off. With age, people gain experience and maturity, which makes them focused and responsible. Their approach is rather professional and they prefer to stick to their chairs to get the work done. If ever they are found absent, then it could be due to sickness.
- Seniority: Employees, who have been with the company for a long time are well-adjusted with the working culture and the job, therefore, they find no reason to be absent without permission. On the other hand, new hires are more prone to taking ad hoc breaks to unwind themselves.
- Gender: Women generally do a balancing act by shuffling their time between home and work. Family, being their foremost priority, they don’t think twice before taking a step day off.
- Stress: The pressure at work sometimes takes a toll on the employees. This results in increased levels of stress. The employees then resort to excuses that can help them stay away from work.
- Work Routine: Doing the same job over a period of time can get monotonous. The employees find the job functions boring. They choose to do something interesting rather than come to work.
- Job Satisfaction: If employees do not find their job challenging, dissatisfaction creeps in. That leads to more absenteeism.
It is essential to measure absenteeism, as it is important to identify the trends and trace the patterns in an employee’s attendance. There are two methods to measure absenteeism. Care should be taken to see that the data collected for measuring absenteeism is accurate. The most popular method is the “lost time rate” formula.
Lost Time Rate = (Number of Working Days Lost/Total Number of Working Days)*100
The other formula is the “individual frequency” formula.
Individual Frequency = (Number of Absent Employees/Average Number of Employees)*100
Dealing with Absenteeism in the Workplace
- Design a comprehensive leave policy that is in alignment with the company’s values and objectives.
- The workplace communication, while dealing with sensitive issues like absenteeism should be clear and transparent. Employees should be made aware of the adverse effects of unauthorized time off.
- Monitor the attendance of all employees. The departmental heads should maintain an attendance sheet on a regular basis.
- Acknowledge regularity and punctuality, and reward appropriately.
- Try to know the reason behind an employee’s leave of absence. Face to face conversation might help.
- Conduct regular health check ups to curb absenteeism due to illness.
- Introduce employee engagement programs to involve employees to participate actively in the welfare of the organization.
- Supervisors and managers should be trained to understand the psyche behind absenteeism, and eventually decrease it.
- Introducing counseling sessions could prove beneficial in curbing absenteeism due to stress.
- Keep your staff motivated by creating a favorable environment.
Absenteeism in the workplace can be controlled, if adequate measures are taken.
by Lalan Maliakal.