What Is Absenteeism?

Absenteeism refers to an employee’s unplanned, habitual or avoidable work absences that repeatedly become a source of organizational problems for colleagues and employers.

What Are the Main Causes of Absenteeism in the Workplace?

Workplace absenteeism can be due to professional or personal reasons.

Work-related reasons may include:

Personal reasons that can impact work and influence absenteeism rates include the employee’s:

  • Health
  • Family situation
  • Lifestyle

What Are the Consequences of Workplace Absenteeism?

Repeated absences by one or more employees make the company more complicated to manage for the employer. Absenteeism can affect employees’ overall motivation and impact company operations.

Consequences of occupational absenteeism include:

  • Lower productivity, motivation and performance
  • Higher workload for the employees present at work
  • Reduced quality of work and customer service
  • Deteriorated work environment
  • Disruptions to business operations
  • Delays on projects, orders or services
  • Costs associated with replacing the absent employee
  • Lower company profitability

How to Reduce Workplace Absenteeism?

When it comes to preventing workplace absenteeism, employee motivation is the key. To this end, a number of initiatives are commonly put in place by employers. For example, offering employees recognition for their work, making training and career development opportunities available, and meeting with employees on a regular basis.

When absenteeism becomes an issue, it is advisable to examine the company’s situation to understand the root cause. The following questions can help the employer make a quick diagnosis:

  • Which employees are absent most often?
  • What are the grounds for these absences?
  • How often do the absences occur?

The answers will provide insight into why the absenteeism is happening, in addition to helping to anticipate and prevent future absences. A few solutions to reduce absenteeism:

  • Listening to staff: listening to employees helps managers ensure good working conditions.
  • Employee motivation: a career development plan with clear goals and an attendance bonus can be encouraging for employees.
  • Disciplinary measures: unexcused absences must be dealt with sternly.
  • Action plan: it can be helpful to draw up an action plan upon the return of any employee who has been absent for an extended period of time.

How to Calculate the Absenteeism Rate?

To calculate the absenteeism rate, divide the number of hours absent from work by the number of scheduled work hours in a given period. The periods used are generally the month and the year.

The formula for calculating the percentage of absenteeism is:

(Number of hours absent / Number of hours scheduled to work) × 100

For example, for a company with 20 employees who work 8 hours a day and with 7 days of absence (7 days of absence × 8 hours of work = 56 hours of absence).

Scheduled work hours in a month: 3,360 hours (21 days × 8 hours per day × 20 employees).

Absenteeism rate: (56 / 3,360) × 100 = 1.66%

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