By Terry Stockham, Human Capital Advisor at OnForce
According to The American Heritage New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, the definition of absenteeism is:”Habitual absence from work, thought to reflect employee demoralization or dissatisfaction.”
Absenteeism at work is not only about the direct costs related to an employee’s absence (sick pay, overtime, etc.), but also about the related effects that ripple throughout the organization. Here are just a few examples of the extended impacts of poor attendance:
- Safety implications: working short-handed, hiring inexperienced temporary staff, or relying on overworked employees on overtime can all lead to increased accidents and downtime, as well as have a negative impact on cost and profitability
- Productivity loss: because of reduced staff, your company may shorten certain processes to get things done
- Quality compromised: product and service defects tend to increase when you do not have sufficient staff; also, employees already working a full schedule and asked to put in additional hours tend to make more mistakes
- Performance loss: high-performing employees with good attendance will gradually become disengaged and their performance will suffer as a result of carrying shifted burdens and workload, especially over an extended period of time
- Employee turnover: poor attendance may eventually lead to more high-performing employees leaving, compared to low-performing employees. Over time, this dynamic can drastically impact your organization on multiple levels and inhibit its ability to meet the needs of customers in a quality-driven, sustainable, and profitable manner.
As you can see from these examples, attendance issues are reflected not only with employee cost, but also have cost and performance impacts that can affect your entire organization and your bottom line. While attendance is a relatively complex issue with no single solution, there are things you can look for in your organization such as:
CULTURE: Take a hard look at your culture and how employees are treated and recognized for performance. Do you have a culture of inclusion and collaboration rather than “command and control”?
TALENT: To borrow Jim Collins’ phrase: “Are you getting the right people on the bus…in the right seats?” Work environments, cultures, and jobs change over time. The right person, in the right place, at the right time, doing the right things is crucial. Conversely, mismatches result in disengagement and poor attendance.
RECOGNITION: Pay and benefits come to be perceived as entitlements to an employee in a very short time. They are important, but not true motivators. Look at how your organization recognizes the contributions of employees. It is human nature to desire and seek acknowledgment of successes and performance, which is why recognition is a cost-effective way to get lasting results with positive impacts to the bottom line.
JOB STRUCTURE: Review how your jobs are structured. Maybe it’s time for a change. Does the structure of the job challenge and motivate the employee? Does the employee feel he/she can make a difference in his/her current role? If the answer is “no,” it is time for a change. Some jobs may need to be restructured or redesigned to improve employee satisfaction with the work. If this does not help, some duties may need to be outsourced or fulfilled via an appropriate contingent labor model.
If your company has an attendance problem, the key is to act quickly, before it negatively impacts your entire organization.