Absenteeism: Where Did All Your Employees Go?

The pandemic has been seen as a chance by some businesses to re-evaluate priorities and build work environments where team members feel safe, engaged, inspired and productive, regardless if they’re working from home or at the office.

But happy and healthy employees isn’t always a guarantee. There are a number of factors that threaten a solid workforce and today, we’re discussing absenteeism. 

Where Did Everybody Go?

Absenteeism refers to an employee’s habitual absence from work that goes beyond any absences related to sickness, vacations, and other personal time. Employers usually anticipate that their staff will take sick days and, therefore, will allocate a number of these days for each of their employees. But what happens when your employees are gone longer than expected?

Of course, there are many other unexpected and unintentional reasons for prolonged absences. Someone may lose a family member or experience a delay at an airport; parents with children will often stay away from work if they are ill or have an accident; alternatively, individuals with elderly parents may need assistance. In many cases, it’s up to the employer to determine whether the cause has enough reason to warrant staying home and further action.

The Numbers Tell the Truth

Absenteeism is expensive both in direct and indirect costs. Let’s take a look at some numbers. 

  • Unscheduled absenteeism costs $3,600 per year for each hourly worker and $2,660 each year for salaried employees. 
  • Most of the time, unscheduled absenteeism is a cause of personal illness (30%), family issues (20%) or personal needs (27%). 
  • Fatigued workers have been found to have higher rates of health-related absenteeism than non-fatigued workers, costing an extra $405/year in health-related absenteeism costs. 

While it isn’t always easy to prevent stress in the workplace, incorporating employee mental health and happiness into your processes can help reduce absenteeism. This includes expanding your health and wellness programs, providing team members with more personal days, and being more communicative about struggles and personal well being. You can schedule a meeting with your employees to discuss the following: 

  • Give them an opportunity to share information about their situation;
  • Ask if there’s something you can do to facilitate improved attendance;
  • Clarify any requests for changes to their job or work responsibilities, and;
  • Plan future attendance goals and timelines together.

Absences here and there from work are inevitable. We simply don’t want them to be habitual as it creates the greatest negative effect on you, fellow coworkers, productivity and of course, the bottom-line. You can manage them by maintaining a positive, communicative relationship with each team member. Being able to work together through the tough times is what being a team is all about.