Absenteeism costs the Australian economy $7 billion each year. There may be a number of factors that cause employee absenteeism. The likelihood of an employee attending work is a function of the employee’s motivation to attend work and their ability to attend work. Below is a brief outline of main absentee factors.
Length of service. In general, length of service appears to have little effect on levels of absenteeism or lateness. Past absenteeism and lateness tends to be a reliable predictor of future behaviour, meaning that the behaviour was consistent over time.
Age. The highest level of absences are from the youngest and oldest workers. Younger workers have the most single day absences and the older workers generally have a longer duration.
Job satisfaction. Job satisfaction tends to be a highly subjective concept and is influenced variables such as; job design / content, the job situation, employee values and expectations, employee personal characteristics and a robust human resources framework of policies and guidelines.
Job situation. Aspects of the job situation include scope and level of the job, job stresses, size and cohesiveness of the work group, relationships with co-workers, managers, leadership style of managers and opportunities for advancement. Absenteeism can often be linked to specific interactions or situations that may have become toxic in the workplace. On occasion, this may lead to stress and an employee going on extended sick leave.
Employee values and expectations. If an employee’s expectations and aspirations regarding the job are not met, there is the danger of an adverse reaction to the job in general, again resulting in the use of absenteeism as a safety valve. This point highlights the need for employers to ensure employees are given realistic expectations and job previews at the recruitment and commencement stage.
Pressures to attend. The factors which affect pressure to attend work are economic and market conditions, such as unemployment and threats of redundancy, outside commitments – family and financial, incentive/reward schemes, group cohesiveness, the Company culture and the employee’s personal work ethic.
Work versus non-work activities. Attendance at work may at times conflict with other commitments, such as family (flexible working arrangements), sport, a second job or voluntary work. Where the employee regards attending to the other commitments as more essential than attending work, there will be absenteeism, lateness/early departure and temporary absences from work.
Health wellness and fitness. An employee’s level of health and fitness, and the employee’s ability to maintain control over it, will influence the ability to attend rather than the motivation to attend. Health may be affected by aspects of the job, such as stresses, working conditions, physical requirements and repetitive movements. Other health factors such as substance abuse or family stresses can often influence absences. All businesses, however small need a Health and Wellness Policy as part of their policy library.
Absentee Strategies need to be linked into the Company policies to include a Health and Wellness policy, Fit for Work assessments, an Employee Assistance program (EAP), regular catch-ups between employees and managers which will alert any issues and trigger an intervention process.
Contact Barb Channing, Director and Principal Consultant, Channing International for further information. Ph 0458 458 894. Visit www.virtualbusinesscentre.com.au/
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