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Absenteeism Facts

Paid absences are not universal 39% of U.S. employees do not receive paid sick
leave; 1/3 of FT Iowa employees have no paid sick leave (81% of part-timers).

Financial cost estimates are highly variable

Absenteeism costs are about 9% of payroll

Can necessitate temporary or surplus employees

Can affect customer service

Shareholders/Boards of Directors expect control

Absenteeism Issues
What is excessive? Multiple metrics: Number of sick days used

- Dept of Labor: Mean is 8 days

- Iowa data suggests people use half Changes in absence rates (paid unscheduled absence hours/paid productive hours) Range: 1.9% in 2003 to 3.1% in 2008
Tends to be lower in bad economic times, higher in good times; higher in public sector than in private sector

Absenteeism Issues
What is excessive? Multiple metrics: Number of sick days used

- Dept of Labor: Mean is 8 days

- Iowa data suggests people use half Changes in absence rates (paid unscheduled absence hours/paid productive hours) Range: 1.9% in 2003 to 3.1% in 2008
Tends to be lower in bad economic times, higher in good times; higher in public sector (4%) than in private sector (3%)

Absenteeism Issues
What is excessive? Multiple metrics: Percent of working hours lost to absenteeism (> 3% excessive) # worker days lost per month (Avg # employees) X (# work days)

Need industry/ region comparatives

(lower level employee, 2011)
1. Salary ($13.26/hour) 2. Benefits 3. Replacement employee (cross-training, temp help, supervision, overtime) 106.06 29.91 10.89

4. Unabsorbed burden (unused capital equipment, rent, light, in-efficient use of materials)
5. Loss profit contribution (value added)


87.03 $305.96

Focus: Managing Voluntary Absenteeism

Determining what percent of absence is voluntary (avoidable) and what is nonvoluntary is tricky
Experts believe 40% is voluntary and 60% is non-voluntary (e.g., personal or family illness) 40% may be the max managers can affect

Summarizing: Separating Voluntary & Nonvoluntary Absence May be contingent on empowerment (discretion) of supervisors

Absence policies remain ambiguous a. Personal/dependent illness b. Gray areas: relative illness, business affairs, lack of transportation, domestic maintenance
c. Truly discretionary: take a day off, wedding, special event

Summarizing: Separating Voluntary & Nonvoluntary Absence Explains popularity of PTO (Paid Time Off) and no fault absence policies. SHRM: 33% of firms in 1997, 67% in 2005, 47% of firms in 2010 Generous plan: 10 sick days, 3 personal days, 5 holidays, 10 vacation days for a total of 28 days.

Failure to distinguish between absences and PTO impedes absence research as voluntary & nonvoluntary absence behaviors are not separated; record-keeping also impeded by use of different measures and time frames (see next slide)

Absenteeism Measures
S 1 8 15 22

February M T W TH F 2 3 4 5 6 9 10 11 12 13 16 17 18 19 20 23 24 25 26 27

S 7 14 21 28

1. Frequency Measure: total # of times/period absent ( 4)

2. Severity Measure:
March 1 2 3 4 8 9 10 11 15 16 17 18 22 23 24 25 29 30 31 5 12 19 26 6 13 20 27 7 14 21 28

total # of days/period (most common)

( 7)

3. Attitudinal Measure: Frequency of 1 day absences (2)

April 1 2 3 5 6 7 8 9 10 12 13 14 15 16 17 19 20 21 22 23 24 26 27 28 29 30

4. Medical Measure:
4 11 18 25

Frequency of > 3 day absences (1)

5. Worst Day:

# people absent on any given day (e.g., Monday)

Model of Employee Absenteeism

3. Personal Characteristics -Education -Sex/Family -Org. tenure responsibility -Age (also depends -Family size on sex) -Personality
7. Ability to Attend -Health (Depression, pain cardio fitness, smoking, drug use) -Illness & accidents -Family responsibilities -Transportation problems -Travel distance 6. Attendance Motivation 5. Pressures to Attend -Economic/market conditions -Human Resource Practices (incentives, control policies) -Work group norms/culture -Profit sharing/employee share ownership 8.Employee Absenteeism (Attendance)

2. Recruitment + Selection Job expectations about Attendance 1. Job Situation -Job autonomy -Job level -Work group size -Role Stress -Considerate leadership style -Coworker relationships -Scheduling (flexible, rotating)

4. Job Attitudes -Job satisfaction -Organ.commitment -Job involvement

Review of Absenteeism Model

Box 8: Employee Absenteeism or Attendance Box 1: Job Situation Job autonomy Absenteeism Box 2: Recruitment and Selection Box 3: Personal Characteristics Box 4: Job Attitudes Box 5: Pressures to Attend (next slide)

Personal Characteristics (Box 3)

Education: No consistent pattern. Org tenure: Tenure Absenteeism Age: Younger more short term; older more long term. Age/sex: Men: Age Absenteeism Women: No relationship Family responsibility: Parental status and elder care issues (by 2020 1 in 3 will have the latter; boxes 3 & 7) Family Size: Size Absenteeism

Personality (Box 3)
Conscientiousness Absenteeism
Extroversion Absenteeism Anxiety/depression Absenteeism

Human Resource Practices for Managing Absenteeism (Box 5) Review incentive systems like lotteries (nurse example) Be willing to modify practices over time Determine whether cost/benefit of incentives are consistent with organizational culture

Human Resource Practices for Managing Absenteeism (Box 5 continued) Work group norms and culture Profit sharing; employee ownership

Family Responsibilities: Examples of Costs Associated with Eldercare

Absenteeism Workday interruptions Going part-time Eldercare crisis Supervisor time Taking unpaid leave Replacing the 9% of workers who quit

Solutions: subsidizing in-home care for employees dependent, referral services to caregivers and nursing homes, providing extended leaves of absence.
Be employee need specific: Japanese heartache leave


1. Use standardized measures and time frames 2. Study attendance 3. Study white collar absenteeism 4. Examine how other HR practices affect absenteeism (next 2 slides) 5. Encourage health

6. Engage in more creative thought

Effects of Various Human Resource Practices on Reducing Absenteeism

Well Pay (unused sick leave)

# of Studies


Compressed work schedules Discipline Recognition Wellness programs Other financial incentives (bonus) Games

5 12 6 6 7 6

Medium Medium Medium Low Low Low

Profit sharing/employee ownership

Team/group reward systems PTOs, time-off banks

?? ??

??? ???

Effects of Various Human Resource Practices on Reducing Absenteeism: HR Professionals

Method % of Companies Effectiveness using in 2007 (1-5 very effective) 53 74 59 89 57 82 51 60 3.4 3.2 2.9 3.4 2.6 2.9 3.3 3.6

Well Pay (Buy back unused sick leave) Verification of illness No-fault Disciplinary action Personal recognition Part of yearly performance review Bonus Paid-leave banks (PTO) *
Adapted from CCH, www,cch.coom/preess/news/2007

*PTO may not decrease absenteeism, just make it more planned.


1. Increase job satisfaction/autonomy via a. Job redesign c. Decreased stress b. Supervision d. Flexible schedules 2. Use motivation strategies more frequently and creatively a. Operant conditioning b. Goal setting 3. Use work group dynamics a. Small groups b. Promote attendance norm; tie to rewards? 4. Consider time lags of interventions (next slide)

Strategies for Affecting Absenteeism over Time*

(Length of Time to Impact) Short-term: < 3 months Attendance incentives Injuries/illnesses Low stress/injustice Social pressure to attend work Mid-term: 3 months - 1 year Job satisfaction Organizational commitment Job involvement Meaningful work Group/culture with strong attendance norm Non-union or no paid sick leave environment Day shift Flextime Long-term: > 1 year Gender Age Depression Smoking Heavy drinking Drug use Exercise

*Based on Harrison & Martocchio, 1998, Journal of Management 24 (3): 305-350.

Navarro & Bass Kuzmits & Adams Johns Judge et al.

What were your take-aways from Navarro & Bass?

Kuzmits & Adams (2009)

What were the key parts of a no-fault absence system? Summarize the study setting and research design What were the major findings? How generalizable are these results?

Johns Article
Employees & managers estimate absenteeism inaccurately. Why?

Under-reporting tendency noted in 9 hypotheses, suggesting bias extends to group level

What was the sample and attendance policy? Review Table 1 to understand why there are two sets of data and Hyp. 4

Johns Article
What did the partial replication show? Implications: People under-report absenteeism extensively. Are they deliberately lying? How can the under-reporting tendency be addressed? Is self-serving bias evident in non-western societies? Though no actual absence data, yes. Stronger at group level among Chinese managers

Mean 9 Days Absent 8 7

Results: Hyp. 1, 2, 3, 6, 7 & 8 and Partial Replication

8.83 School Teachers

7.47 6.21 7.31

6 H1 5 4 3.22 H6 Utility Employees 5.91 H7 H3 H2 3.65

2 1

H8 (ns) Utility Managers


Occupational Norm Figure 1.

Group Self Actual Estimates Report Absence Absence Measure Mean days absent (estimated or actual) for three samples.

Judge et al. (1997)

Relates Big Five to absenteeism. Move beyond situational causes of absenteeism to dispositional one which might be usable at the time of selection How is each trait hypothesized to be related to absence behavior? What does Hyp. #4, stating that absence history will mediate the relationship between personality and absence mean?

Research Model: Judge et al. 1997

Personality Traits T1

Absence Proneness Mediator T2

Absenteeism T3

Judge et al. (1997)

What was the sample and response rate? How were personality, absence proneness, and absence behavior measured? Were Hypotheses 1-3 supported? Table 2 Was Hypothesis #4 supported? Table 3 In what ways, if any, could you use this information in the selection process?