December 12, 2011
The raison d’être of managers is to maximize productivity by optimizing upon the contribution of the workers in their group. But, it is inevitable to find a gap between what is ideal against what is possible and achievable. Umpteen numbers of interruptions and disturbances keep eroding into the productive hours of a work day in general. To illustrate, let us consider what occurred on the day Google’s logo was turned into a playable version of Pac-Man. One research established an average increase in user time of 36 seconds resulted in an estimated total of 4.82 million hours which roughly translates to 120 million USD. Depending upon our respective roles (as employers or employees) we may extrapolate the devastating effect of a meager 36 seconds to other scenarios like coffee breaks, personal calls/mails, bill payments, banking online, and many more to top it off with absenteeism – to duly consider the causes and possible fixes.
Employees everywhere are given the option to apply for leave so as to accommodate their personal agendas into their work lives. The tendency to avail it in full is traditionally curbed through the system of making some of it cashable, when not utilized. Absenteeism could be genuinely sick or just malingering to avoid work. Unfortunately, it is possible to have some of the distinctions blurred as when an employee falls sick or is driven to depression due to the work conditions. Employers today make no distinction between the causes and monitor the frequency and occurrence only when measuring absenteeism.
360° Effects of Absenteeism:
- The employee loses income, and incurs additional expenditure on whatever caused the absence like sickness, travel or celebrations
- The employer incurs loss of work hours, sick pay, overtime or payroll plus training costs of temporary staff and attrition costs as well as costs in lowered productivity, quality and output with a possible loss of customers. There will be additional administrative costs with the rescheduling and hiring efforts, and some end up over-staffing at additional cost.
- Colleagues suffer stress brought on by the additional load of work and deadline pressures along with a feeling of demoralization and/or victimization.
- The Government incurs higher costs in social security payments.
Causes of Absenteeism:
- Employee’s personal reasons/agenda, sickness/accidental injuries, family problems, substance abuse, poor fitness
- Work place issues like harassment, bullying, stress, communication breakdown or high workload
- Unhappiness with work environment
- Boredom on the job and low morale
- Lack of leadership and poor quality of supervision
- Availability of income protection and other benefits
- Sick building syndrome; or unhealthy working conditions like inadequate ventilation, exposure to volatile chemical or air-borne biological contaminants from indoor or outdoor sources could cause ill-health amongst one’s employees.
Fixes for Absenteeism:
Like any other issue in management, absenteeism requires a systematic and structured approach to the identification of the problem and its underlying causes and a possible pattern in the occurrence of the issue.
- It is necessary to measure the amount of absence within the organization before setting out to fix it through monitoring the utilization of authorized leaves, use of unauthorized leaves. Create policies for managing sickness and other leaves, with clear documentation and supervision as it will help to recognize if the absence is a conduct issue or a health issue.
- The size of the organization should decide if this exercise needs to be conducted with specific reference to different departments or groups. The reason for leave and number of leaves within each department may help to isolate a pattern which could provide an insight into possible issues within the department.
- When a plan is put in place for implementation, it is necessary to allocate clear responsibilities to the individuals handling the assignment and to involve the employees actively.
- It may be an excellent idea to seek external help and initiate programs to identify possible causes of boredom at work. Many organizations today try to monitor their employees’ health and institute wellness programs to improve their overall health and well-being.
- It is also considered sensible to accept the existence of communicable diseases which could cause mass absenteeism among the staff members if one infected person is forced to report to duty – just to keep absenteeism down.
Higher pay and job satisfaction are known to curb absenteeism, but interestingly, it is the embezzlers and other fraudulent characters along with persons doing charitable work or jobs in the medical fraternity who refuse to avail leave to which they are entitled – and turn up to work without fail on every single working day.
The content on this blog is for informational purposes only and cannot be construed as specific legal advice or as a substitute for competent legal advice. They reflect the opinions of DCR Workforce and may not reflect the opinions of any individual attorney. Do contact an attorney for advice specific to your issue or problem.