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London School of Business and Finance

Managing Absenteeism
Organizational Behavior
Student Name

The major problem that several organizations are facing now days is the employee absence. In the current situation where the economy situation is across the globe is not very good, the organizations are moving towards cost cutting which results in layoffs. So, this leaves being the short staff and the same amount of work that were used to be performed by more number of employees. In these circumstances employees absence cause severe problem for the companies even for the employees as well. Several costs and productivity factors are involved with the absence of the employees. The absence of one employee automatically causes a burden to other employees or the company has to hire untrained temporary staff to overcome the burden. This result in several direct and indirect costs to the companies and in the current economical situation, increasing cost for any business is very pinching.

Moreover, this trend of absenteeism also effects the economy overall. It sounds very different that how an absent of one employee of a particular organization effects the whole economy, but it is true in a way that when an employee is absent then the cost of the organization increases as discussed above in the same way the productivity of the organization also decreases which ultimately suffers the productivity of the whole industry and the whole economy. This also increases the cost regardless of the fact that it is direct or indirect and the quality of the good whether public or private. In this era, where the business environment is highly competitive, the employee loyalty, commitment and attendance at workplace has become very curtail factors for the human resource performance.

Defining absenteeism
It is very hard to find a generalized definition of Absenteeism in different literatures and researches. But in general absenteeism can be defined as the unplanned non-attendance or presence of employee at work where his/her attendance was scheduled. This unplanned non attendance includes sick leaves, special leaves for emergencies etc. The term absenteeism is also related to the sickness leaves and in some literatures is defined as the non-attendance for the purpose to access the sick leaves (Royal Australasian College of Physicians, 2000). But it is to be considered that the above definition of absenteeism is not underestimating the significant contribution towards the loss of productivity due to absence of the employee, time lost due to the other leaves, different disputes that arises in the industries etc. So while measuring the absenteeism all these factors should be considered. London School of Business and Finance | Managing Absenteeism

MEASURING ABSENTEEISM Evaluating Impacts of Absenteeism

The employee absence has wide range of consequences on an organization, its employees and the overall operations of the industry. Though during the industrial disputes and different regional factors also wastes the time, and leaves impact on the overall productivity of the industry, but several researches and studies proved that the loss of work due to the absenteeism is far more than that of other time losses. There are several impacts which are associated with the absenteeism in an organization. A brief description of these impacts is as under.


Direct and Indirect Cost

There are several costs that are associated with the absence of the employee that

affects an organization. When an employee is not present then the management has to make the changes in the daily working of that particular department. No organization can afford to halt the work that is performed by the absent employee so that results in the longer working hours of the other employees, temporary haring of the replacement or to maintain a permanent workforce which can share the work load of the absent employees. The employee absenteeism becomes very killing for those organizations where tasks are interdependent to each other (Royal Australasian College of Physicians, 2000). In such scenarios the whole process of which that absent employee is the part, is disturbed. And in such cases the replacements are not very much affective as they are untrained and will be very slow as compared to the regular employee.

According to the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) the cost of absenteeism is very high. The yearly cost that the UK industry has to bear due to the absenteeism is around 19.9 Billion Pounds. Moreover, another survey also showed that the sickness leaves are bogus up to 17%. According to a report by Australasian Faculty of Occupational Medicine that in Australia the annual cost that the industry had to bear due to this trend in 1990 was around $7 billion which is around 2% of the gross domestic product with the absent rate of around 2.4%. This rate increased in 1998-99 to $9 billion. According to another survey the average time lost by each employee in Canada, due to absenteeism is 5 working

London School of Business and Finance | Managing Absenteeism

days per year. Similarly in some European countries this rate is around 20-25 working days per year (Confederation of British Industry, 2002).

The above facts and figures show that organizations are facing this problem severely. Several costs are occurred to cover the work loss by absenteeism. Below are some of the consequences due to employee non-presence from the workplace. The direct and indirect costs are increased. The morale of on duty employees decreases. The work load is increased. The managers and supervisors are frustrated by managing the work load of absent employee. The overall productivity is reduced The objectives are difficult to achieve with less workforce. The quality of the product decreases due to the non trained replacements. Extra cost of training and loss of skills occurs. Bad reputation of the organization occurs in market.

The additional indirect costs that includes additional time of supervisors, overtimes, trainings etc are not estimated most of the times as it may be more than that or direct costs.


Apart from the costs of absenteeism it is also helpful to the organization as long as

this remains in control. It is humanly not possible to be present every time. Being a human being living I a society there are lot of responsibilities apart from the job that are needed to be catered by every individual. So being extreme strict about the absence is also not right for any organization. It is beneficial for an organization that a worker should not attend the work place while he is physically not fit. As an unfit person may not perform his/her duty efficiently and there are chances that a big loss can be occurred due to this inefficiency. This not only reduces the threat of further injury to that unfit employee but also to the other coworkers. Following are some of the potential benefits that can be obtained by the employee non-presence at workplace.

London School of Business and Finance | Managing Absenteeism

Use of the lawful right by the employees Reduction of risk to further injury Increased rate of recovery of a sick/injured employee Eliminates the risk of transfer of infected decease

Evaluating Causes of Absenteeism

In this section a brief description of the causes of Absenteeism are mentioned. There are several reasons which result in absence of an employee, but those are categorized as under.


Individual Factors
Following are some of the individual factors which cause the absence from workplace: The major cause of absenteeism is illness, sickness or injury of a person which restricts a person to come at workplace. Disease and illness are rarely discussed in different researches and studies related to causes of absenteeism. The workplace can be a model to control the most common diseases caused by smoking, having alcohol and use of drugs. Along with this the medical certifications are also the cause of absenteeism, where the medical practitioners restrict the patient to attend the workplace for a specified time period. Motivation among the employees can also be the cause of absenteeism. It has been witnessed in several organization where the motivation factor is low the rate of absence is very high. It reflects the loyalty factor of an employee towards the organization. If it is high then the employee will not take unnecessary leaves and vice versa. There are several other responsibilities to an individual which are to be catered by him/her and that cause absenteeism. This is more often seen in the person who is married and has several responsibilities towards their children. The distance between the employee residence and the workplace also results in absenteeism. As sometimes, the non availability of transpiration may cause the employees unplanned absence.

London School of Business and Finance | Managing Absenteeism


Job/Work Related Factors

The nature of job has a direct impact on absenteeism. An employee who is performing repetitive task, who has uncertainty is more likely to be absence. It also includes the boring nature of job. If an employee is not given the responsibilities according to his/her capabilities then he will not take interest in the assigned work and is more likely to take unnecessary leaves. The job satisfaction level also influences the absenteeism. If the employees are satisfied with their jobs then they are less likely to be absent from work place. On the other hand if the satisfaction level of the employees is low then there are chances that some of them find the ways to be absent from the work place as they will not have any kind of loyalty with the organization. The organizational culture also affects the absenteeism. If the culture is not cooperative and the managers and coworkers are not helpful then it causes the employee demotivation and results in non-presence from workplace. If an employee is overloaded with the work and is forced for late sittings and gives extra time then he is more likely to be absent. Even if the organization is giving overtime to the employees and is forcing for late settings, it results in the increased rate of absenteeism. There are several social and societal factors that influence to the trend of absenteeism. It may vary from region to region and can have very different impacts. For instance in Asian countries the reasons of absence are more family related whereas in European countries this trend will not be at higher side.

The factors related to the organizations environment that causes absenteeism are as under:

London School of Business and Finance | Managing Absenteeism

Absenteeism management is of far most importance especially in the current economy satiations. As mentioned above it is almost next to impossible to increase the costs. It is experienced that better attendance rates results in increased productivity of the business, low cost and better customer satisfaction. Following are some of the tips or guidelines which are required by every organization to reduce and control the increasing trend of absenteeism.

Role of Supervisors and Managers

In several companies the role of supervisors and managers is considered very vital to control and manage the absenteeism. The reason is because the direct supervisors and managers are the person who is in a better position to know whether an employee is present or absent. Moreover, these are the persons who are in a better position to evaluate and understand the circumstances faced by the employees and the exact reason for absenteeism. So while defining the procedure or strategy for absenteeism in any organization the active part of the managers and supervisors is very important (Stefani Yorges, 2007). However, the sad part is that these managers and supervisors are not given any formal or informal training to manage the absenteeism and they are on their own to manage the absence of the employees and sometimes they have to perform unpopular task i.e. to identify the persons who confront absence abuse. So to ensure the smooth and effective implementation of any absence control policy by the organization it is necessary that the supervisors and managers have full support of management. All the stakeholders should have very clear understanding of the aims and objectives of the policy.

Managers and supervisors are responsible to cover the work load in the absence of an employee and in addition to this they should also be trained and guided to control the increasing trend of absenteeism (Des Squire, 2007). Following steps should be taken by them in this regard: Managers should ensure that their team members are aware of the policies and procedures of the organization related to the absence management.

They should make sure that they are the first point of contact if an employee avails and unplanned leave so that manager should know that how many team members he has to London School of Business and Finance | Managing Absenteeism

perform daily operation and can manage the workload accordingly in the early working hours. Managers and supervisors should maintain the record of their respective teams regarding the leaves availed by their team members and the nature and reason of leaves should also be there as if some employee avails the unplanned leave again then he/she can have a track record of his/her previous absences. The causes are also needed to be evaluated which causes the absence among the employees. A manager should be aware of the types of absence that his team avails and also should find the cause of absenteeism. This will help the manager to control the unnecessary absence and can have a logical reason in front of management while defining the absenteeism trend in the department. Moreover, the disciplinary actions should be taken against the employees who are not following the procedures and processes of absenteeism.

Return-on-Job Interview
The managers and supervisors should be trained to take affective and fair interviews on the return of employees from unplanned absence. Several studies and practices in different organizations has proved that the return-to-work interviews are considered to be the most effective tool for managing the absenteeism in the organization (Stefani Yorges, 2007).

These interviews enable the managers and supervisors to welcome the employee back to the workplace and also ensure the management about the controlled absenteeism in the organization. It helps the managers to know that the employee is well enough to perform his/her duties on the work place. This also helps to complete the paper work so that the employee absent can be recorded and the reason for the unplanned absent can be sorted out for future referencing. These interviews should be taken very quickly and should be very precise and short. Moreover, these interviews should be taken from the absent employees within 1 or 2 working days on return. The employees should be given a proper chance to outline the reason or logic for his/her absence. These interviews can also help the mangers to explore any kind of problems and issues if the employees are facing. London School of Business and Finance | Managing Absenteeism

The purpose of such interviews is to encourage the supportive culture within the organization among the managers and subordinates. It also gives a chance to the employees to explain the reasons for their absence and any sort problems if they are facing inside the organization. It also helps the managers to authenticate the reason that employee is giving for his/her absence. In this scenario employees will be more careful to take unnecessary leaves when they know that their manager will ask them about the reason of absence on their return.

The manager should communicate to the team the fact that each employee is very important for the department and the whole teams productivity is suffered on their absence. This also helps to increase the morale of the employees and the motivation level increases towards the organization. These kinds of interviews also help the managers and supervisors to brief the developments that occurred within the department and organization and about the tasks that are required to be prioritized.

The purpose of this interview is not to punish the employee for absence as there are many employees who are very loyal to the organization and they do not want to be threatened by anything as they are very sensitive about their work and contribution towards the organization and they expect a certain level of respect in return. However, there are some employees who are habitual absentees and they should be treated individually and firmly according to the absence control management procedures and should also be penalized for excessive absences.

Building Motivation among Employees

Sometimes organizations are not able to control absenteeism despite of the tighter control and applying strict absence control policies, this is because the root cause of the absenteeism increasing trend is not removed. The employees who are absent due to sickness, traffic, car break-down and other casual excuses are not much motivated and loyal to their jobs. They just spend their time and do only the tasks which they are asked to do so (Mitch McCrimmon, 2008). This is that fact the absenteeism is much higher among the hourly and non

professional employees as demonization factor prevails among those employees and on the other hand absenteeism trend is seen low among the managerial level and professional employees (Mitch McCrimmon, 2008). The absenteeism culture is higher among those London School of Business and Finance | Managing Absenteeism

employees at the workplace who stem from lack of motivational factors (Anne Fairweather). So, all the members of the team should be given the awareness about the organizational policies and strategies for future growth and the benefits that organization plans to give to its employees in future. In this way the motivation level will improve and the absenteeism trend will decrease.

Problems in Managing Absenteeism

Despite of the fact that absenteeism is one of the major problems of the organizations and the productivity is badly affected due to this, there are several barriers that are on the way to the affective implementation of absenteeism control procedures and some of them are as under. Sometimes the supervisors and managers themselves are not willing to support the absenteeism management as they are already under immense pressure of different operational targets and performance enhancement of their teams. Under such circumstances they are not willing to take extra responsibility which is different from their core responsibility. They feel that the human resource departments should be managing such tasks as this is their core responsibility. Similarly the mangers are not willing to implement such procedures properly as they have to answer the reasons for the absence of their staff. So the implementation of these procedures consistently becomes difficult in such scenarios. The system of absenteeism should be implemented for all the employees. There should be no favoritism in this regard. It is often seen in the organizations that the factor of favoritism affects as a barrier to the implementation of absenteeism management procedures. It results in lower moral among the team members and employees have the feeling that they are being treated unfairly under these procedures as other are getting away from these rules.

Most of the employees welcome such policies that facilitate them and they repel such
policies which are strict and disciplinary. Such measures can make them absent while working, so it is necessary that absenteeism management policies should be properly communicated to all the employees and it should be realized to them that following these rules is in their own interest as overall productivity of the organization will increase and the success of the organization is their success. London School of Business and Finance | Managing Absenteeism


Many researches and surveys shows that the organization should behave according to the knowledge they possess. Organization should know the capabilities and strength they have and should behave in that direction which can give them competitive edge. Organizations are pure processes not only the building, machines and other tangible objects (Rodman, 2005). Organizations are practices, procedures and relationships entered into to coordinate human talents and efforts towards common goals (David S. Walonick). Organizational Behavior theories show the behavior of the organizations from different views. When people interact with in the organizations there are many factors which plays very vital role. Modern organization theories are more focused toward controlling, predicting and explaining behaviors of different stakeholders. For managers the knowledge of organizational behavior theories is very important as they have to manage their team in daily routine. Following are some reason which is required to be managed by the managers: To keep the team motivated to join and remain in the organization. Perform the daily tasks efficiently. Team members should be flexible and always try to invent new ideas and concepts.

Study and right knowledge of organizational behavior theories is also important because it is about people and human nature. It includes interesting examples of success and failure. Provides tools to figure out why people behave the way they do. Organizational behavior has a powerful influence on the attitudes and behaviors of individuals in organizations (David S. Walonick). Moreover, organizational behavior also affects the financial performance of the company. The business environment is very dynamic in this era of competition, in these scenarios the role of managers have become very important as they have to manage their team according to the changing business needs and policies and they have to make sure the proper implementation of those policies. For this purpose the manager or supervisor should have the knowledge and information about the behavior and attitude of their team so that the daily operations can be run accordingly.

So overall the organizational theories play a key role in daily operations and support the managers and the top management to change the policies and strategies according to the business needs. London School of Business and Finance | Managing Absenteeism

Des Squire, Oct-2007, Managing absenteeism

Stefani Yorges, Nov-2007, The Role of the Supervisor in Managing Absenteeism

Confederation of British Industry, 2002, Reducing Absenteeism David S. Walonick, Organizational Theory and Behavior

Rodman, June 2005, Importance of Organizational Behavior, Affect on Company

Royal Australasian College of Physicians, Dec 2000, Workplace attendance and absenteeism

Mitch McCrimmon, Aug 2008, Preventing Absenteeism through Employee Motivation

Anne Fairweather, Motivation is key to tackling absenteeism


London School of Business and Finance | Managing Absenteeism