Who is Missing?

absent2As we near the holiday season, the temptation to have a “recovery day” or just an extra prep day for holiday festivities becomes greater. Based on a recent CareerBuilder survey, December is the most likely month for employees to be absent. Although one might assume that a few extra days of unscheduled leave matter little to the overall health and productivity of an organization, the reality provides a very different picture. When the average employee fails to come to work, the organization accrues direct and indirect costs.

The direct costs include:
• Wages paid to the absent employee;
• Replacement workers or overtime for present employees; and
• Administrative costs for managing absenteeism process.

The indirect costs include:
• Reduced productivity;
• Poor service or product quality;
• Reallocation of management time;
• Safety issues; and
• Reduced morale among those that have to do more.

Although various researchers and service providers estimate different total costs of absenteeism, all estimates prove substantial.

According to Kronos, the total cost of employee absenteeism averages 35 percent of base payroll when accounting for direct (pay) and indirect costs (replacement and lost productivity). When considering all costs, the percentage grows since administrative costs are not included in the 35 percent. For example, if an organization employees 100 people at $40,000 on average, the average cost of absenteeism is at least 35 percent of $4,000,000 or $1.4m per year.

Circadian’s report Absenteeism: The Bottom-Line Killer places the per employee cost lower with their conclusion that unscheduled absenteeism costs roughly $3,600 per year for each hourly worker and $2,650 each year for salaried employees.

Estimates place the cost of employee absenteeism at approximately $84 billion a year in lost productivity, according to Gallup.

Obviously, if someone suffers from illness, they should stay home more work. However, how often does absenteeism relates to another cause? Almost one in ten employees fail to come to work on the average day in the US.   According to a recent survey from CareerBuilder of 3,103 workers and 2,203 hiring managers and HR professionals, 28 percent of employees call in sick when they are well. Approximately 19 percent stay home to sleep and eleven percent stay in bed due to the weather.

The survey asks about the most ridiculous excuses for missing work. The 2014 list includes:

1. Employee just put a casserole in the oven.
2. Employee’s plastic surgery for enhancement purposes needed some “tweaking” to get it just right.
3. Employee was sitting in the bathroom and her feet and legs fell asleep. When she stood, up she fell and broke her ankle.
4. Employee had been at the casino all weekend and still had money left to play with on Monday morning.
5. Employee woke up in a good mood and didn’t want to ruin it.
6. Employee had a “lucky night” and didn’t know where he was.
7. Employee got stuck in the blood pressure machine at the grocery store and couldn’t get out.
8. Employee had a gall stone they wanted to heal holistically.
9. Employee caught their uniform on fire by putting it in the microwave to dry.
10. Employee accidentally got on a plane.

So, what can we do about those that opt out of coming to work?

• Identify the source of absences;
• Make sure you have a clear policy on absenteeism;
• Use a time and attendance system to keep appropriate records;
• Discuss absences with employees;
• Implement flexible work arrangements when appropriate; and
• Reward the behaviors you desire.