Measure Absenteeism To Identify, Quantify and Fix The Problem

January 30, 2017
Written by Chris Moore
Finding the Keys to Quality of Hire

Employee absenteeism is a double-whammy expense for companies – they pay wages to absent employees and see a resulting loss of productivity at the same time. Companies need to measure absenteeism to track costs as well as to understand why employees are absent – and look for ways to reduce the negative impact to the bottom line.

Common Reasons For Absenteeism And What Companies Can Do

Health issues are the most common reason for employee absenteeism. A 2015 report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Foundation stated that, “productivity losses linked to absenteeism [related to illness and injury] cost employers $225.8 billion annually in the United States, or $1,685 per employee.”

Other common reasons that people are absent from work include personal or family issues, lack of childcare, bereavement, and more.

Workplaces hoping to contain the costs of lost productivity may want to measure the reasons for absenteeism. Those employee metrics can help HR find opportunities to offer programs (e.g., childcare, wellness, health and safety) and other benefits. Would part-time telecommuting increase productivity among some employees? Workforce analytics are a valuable tool to gain insight and to prepare supporting documentation for upper management, such as a cost analysis of the price of a program/benefit versus the cost of absenteeism.

The Relationship Cost Of Absenteeism

Absenteeism among employees with no known health or family concerns is often an issue of engagement. Employees who aren’t thoroughly engaged with their jobs and companies can gravitate to chronic absenteeism – and absenteeism is a clue to employees at risk for leaving the company. Because the same costs are involved whether the employee is one you want to nurture or not, allowing unengaged employees to leave – or even finding ways to accelerate their departure – can sometimes be the best course of action.

One piece of engagement that companies can do a better job of examining is the stress factor. Are employees burned out because their department is severely understaffed? Is there a relationship problem between the department manager and those who work with him? Being able to identify, quantify and fix a problem saves companies money. Measuring absenteeism and comparing those metrics with others using workforce analytics will provide a lot of insight for HR and people managers to work with.

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