Managing Absenteeism Management Essay

I Introduction

Absenteeism can be defined as voluntary non attendance at work without a valid reason. There are many causes for absenteeism; evasion of work duties, strike or non attendance as a habit. For any organization no matter what its size employee absenteeism is considered a problem because not only does an organization lose an employee for the day but also has to incur costs for the employees absence. An organization also has to pay for the employee which in turn means that for every day an employee is absent the organization has to pay two times, one for the employee salary, two for the work lost. Absenteeism has a direct impact on the productively and profit of a business.

Therefore is it extremely important not only to define absenteeism but also to measure it, manage it and find possible solutions so that absenteeism is reduced to its lowest limit. Absence from work for a valid reason or an emergency is considered absenteeism but mostly that form is absenteeism is rare. Employees skip work for reasons that are considered casual and this makes it important to monitor and control it. After an organization is created, the primary task is to operate it smoothly. Theories and control procedures, models and studies have been done so that an organization can run on its optimum capacity. Hence it becomes a managers duty to regulate, control and monitor absenteeism in his team.

II Types of Absenteeism

From the various studies so far on absenteeism it has been observed to be of two types; culpable and non culpable. Culpable absenteeism is controllable or blameworthy action. An example of culpable absence is usage of sick leaves for ball games. Tardiness is also considered this form of absence. Reporting late for work and not reporting to the company about absence are forms of tardiness. Culpable absenteeism needs to be worked on and reduced. Culpable absenteeism includes the following:

Misuse of sick leaves

Inability to report to work

Failure to provide a doctor’s note

Leaving organizations premises without authorization

Falsifying a physicians statement

Inability to return from approved leave

Tardiness.(Secord, 2003, p.33)

Non culpable absenteeism is also called innocent absenteeism. These are hard working employees who do not intentionally fall sick. Some management practices stress that innocent absenteeism should not be dealt with discipline since it affects the employee motivation and causes them work related anxiety. Absenteeism even after the approved leaves are granted becomes a problem. Approved leaves include bereavement, jury duty, vacation leave, leave for union business, statutory holiday and approved leaves. Innocent absenteeism results in absence due to the following


Accidental injury

Workplace injury

Occupational illness

Family emergency. (LeGault, 2002, p.178)

Managers need to distinguish between culpable and non culpable absence. Then they need to measure the absenteeism in order to monitor and control it. Planning and techniques to reduce absenteeism can only be effective if the problem is correctly measures and understood by the organization. Managers need to be careful with the handling of these matters since they affect the employees productively which in turn affects organizations turnover.

III Causes for absenteeism and Impact on organizations

A problems needs to be defined correctly in order to find solutions. Hence going into the depth of the reasons for culpable absenteeism in required. It has been proved that of the working days available, 5 to 6% are lost due to absenteeism.

Mainly casual absenteeism occurs due to employee unions. For example in a team everyone who takes a leave regularly would make the person who does not take leaves to take leaves since there is no control over the ones who are absent. This behavior has been seen in large organizations where it is difficult to trace one employee. There are emails sent in the office on how to fake an illness and take leaves. Lack of motivation and inability to check the records with employees makes them take advantage of the rules of an organization.

It has been proved that public sector workers are prone to absenteeism than private sector because of lack of regulation and responsibility. In certain cases stress burnout and tight schedules also makes employees skip work and take the time off.

In the past, lack of surveillance has also been a cause on absenteeism. Managers followed the rules of the system instead of changing the system so that they could control absenteeism. Another cause of absenteeism was the incentive to show up early and regularly. Lack of incentive to come regularly to work apart from the paycheck was a reason why so many employees skipped work on days that were too gloomy.

The impact on organizations is not only monetary but also emotional. It depresses employees who do come regularly since they have to do twice their work and it makes the organization be taken for granted. Monetarily an organization loses about 3% of its annual income due to absenteeism. For an average company unscheduled absenteeism could cost around $764,000 in payroll. This makes the company lose the profits it could have had.

Employee morale goes for a toss in mass absenteeism. Productivity from employees present reduces and makes them feel cheated. Excess work could also cause stress and depression for certain employees. The lack of motivation causes employees to be detached from the company and consider their work place as indifferent.

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Absenteeism can be managed by the following steps: (Workplace Attendance and Absenteeism 1999)

“Collection and evaluation of data on absence, turnover and workers’ compensation and attendance management policies.

Workplace walk through inspection.

Meeting with key parties.

Assessment of the physical work environment.

Evaluation of work task organization.”

IV Measuring absenteeism

In order to regulate employee absenteeism, it needs to be measured. Absenteeism is classified into two groups; culpable and non culpable. To classify employees into each group, managers need to schedule an interview with all employees and find out the reasons why they have needed an absence. These interviews should only be held with employees who have been absent since employees attending regularly would be de motivated. Research on the reasons and terming them valid or invalid would decide what category they fall under. For example, if an employee’s states health problem as a reason then the problem should be verified with the medical practitioner. The details need not be accurate however since it could be a personal affair like gynecological reason but the important point is that the doctor would need to justify the absence. This way the manager can form a list of the number culpable leaves of an employee and pin point an employee who skips work regularly. Then appropriate punishment should be given to such employees and their absenteeism rate should be controlled.

Fitzpatrick and Huczynski suggest that careful assessment and analysis of absence problems is essential for effective solutions (Taylor, 2005, p.337). This involves characterization of the absence problem within an organization and identification of the causes before designing and implementing strategies suited to that organization. They further suggest that solutions can be chosen from a range of people, work and organizationally focused strategies.

While measuring the rate of absenteeism, the managers should also calculate the cost of absenteeism for an organization. This would help the managers decide on the amount it can afford to pay its employees as an incentive to work regularly. Normally the cost of absenteeism for an organization includes lost wages, benefits, overtime given to replacements, fees for temporary employees, supervisor’s time, substandard production and overstaffing to cover absenteeism. When a manager calculates the amount from absenteeism, he will be in a better position to manage and judge the problem.

The manager can also separate the data received into short term and long term so that no employee escapes from the radar. The measures need to be specific and should be separated with caution. There are different management techniques for an employee who is absent one time in ten days and an employee who is absent ten days in one year. Productivity should also be taken into consideration while calculating absenteeism since employees who fall sick might be the most productive ones and would be discouraged if punished. (Gandz, 1979)

Then the rate of overall absenteeism needs to be calculated:

Absenteeism rate =

Number of workdays missed per time period X 100

Average number of employees X Number of work days in time period

Other techniques a manager can use for measuring are:

Lost Time Rate= (Number of Working Days Lost /Total Number of Working Days)* 100

Individual Frequency= (Number of Absent Employees/Average Number of Employees)*10

Incidence rate: number of absence per 100 employees in a day

Inactivity rate: percentage of time lost to absenteeism

Severity rate: time lost per employee in a period of time. (Jackson, 2008 p. 86)

There are certain limitations in measuring absenteeism such as collection of data may not be accurate and handling them are prone to human judgment and opinions. Hence managers need to be extremely careful when they prepare a measure to absenteeism. They cannot afford to ignore important details nor can they stress too much on one employee.

V Managing absence

As explained in the case study, to manage absence the organization can either introduce a punishment method or an incentive method. Punishment method has its own pros and cons. The manger must first find the reasons or causes for absenteeism and then measure and manage the absenteeism. Keeping the objectives of the organization in mind the manager needs to develop plans and strategies in order to manage absence of employees. Managers need to be trained in order to manage absenteeism. Superiors need to understand their role in the process of management of absenteeism.

Plain punishment or plain incentive plan might not help an organization. In such cases, a combination of the two plans needs to be formed. The organization takes the role of not only being hard and harsh but also rewarding and kind to employees who do their job. When a manager follows the punishment method of managing, employees get discouraged from work and take a stand where they blame the organization for all problems. Another drawback with absolute punishment method is that the employees that do attend work regularly get punished for no reason.

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A way to get out of this situation is to directly link productivity of an employee to his absenteeism. This way the work done by the employee can also be recorded along with his absence from work. Managers must review their employees’ standard charts and progress for this method to be effective.

The incentive plan makes the organization pay the employees for what they are already paying them to do. This situation would make all the employees want to get incentives for attending work. Apart from that the employees who have been attending regularly feel that they need to be given a higher incentive. Hence only an incentive plan does not work in organizations. Incentives given need to be less that the cost the organization incurs due to absenteeism. The formula for calculating incentive can be directly related to measurement of absenteeism. Managers need to find a middle way out not only to control absenteeism but also to promote regular attendance. Incentives are hence important but should always be used with other measures. Strategically planning ways to solve the problem along with previous examples and theories used by management professionals, a way to motivate employees to attend can be created.

The combination of incentive and punishment method would be effective. For example punishing employees who do not attend regularly by starting at the bottom of the list should be implemented. This punishment should be followed by training and guidance given to the employee on how to stop absenteeism.

Firing employees should not be an option except in a no win situation. This is because firing employees would create a stressful work environment and increase anxiety among employees. Also firing employees would cost the company as it would have to find a new person for the job and time would be consumed on training of the job. Hence, punishments need to be implemented in such a way that along with the punishment the employee is trained on how to increase attendance and post that an incentive plan should be given to that employee. This way not only would the employee realize his mistake but he would also have enough incentive on taking steps to prevent it. (Yorges, 2010)

The system of managing absenteeism needs to be changed and the latest methods and models should be used. This is because the increasing use of these models would help track employees that fool along with the system. There are teams of employees who know the rules well and play with them in a calculated way. This should be stopped and over all organization training needs to be given to all the employees on how to attend regularly and the dangers on culpable absenteeism.

Creation of an EAP (employee assistance program) to help employees take care of their workplace problems as well as home problems helps them in reducing absenteeism. Problems such as drug abuse, violence, conflict, illness are discussed by the counselors in the program and solutions can be found. This kind of a program has worked wonders in Australia where when the problems of the employees were solved, their attendance to work because more and more regular. Other programs such as health and wellness promotion and rehabilitation programs would help employees find a solution to complex cases and return back to work regularly.

Development of long term goal and strategies should be every manager’s goal. Not only should absenteeism be reduced but it also needs to be prevented. The managers need to develop excellent management policies, procedures and skills to handle any problem. Establishing an attendance culture may be difficult but leading the employees with the skill, talent and charisma of a leader towards the goals is important. Poor work attendance results in loss not only directly but also indirectly in many ways possible. In a small firm it is easier to locate the problem and apply the theories and manage absenteeism but in the large scale organization it becomes extremely difficult for a manager to regulate and control the employee turnover. However with the help of the latest techniques and following the management practices, an organization achieves limited absenteeism.

Once the rate of absenteeism is reduced the managers should work on maintaining them by coming up with innovative methods to increase attendance. They should track the system regularly and compare the old values to the new ones. This comparison would give them a fair estimate on whether their strategies are working or not. Once they are working, the manager can track them and change the system on regular interval so that the employees can benefit from the organization. If the figures do not improve even after various techniques of incentive, punishment and innovation the manage needs to review the employee charts again. This time new models need to be used and employees that are found violating the codes of conduct of the organization should be dealt with seriously. A critical strategy here is to find out the reasons why the initial plan failed. Then actions such as firing employees and alienating individuals who do not meet the standards of the company need to be taken. These practices should again over a period be compared to the previous ones.

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The manager needs to take a stand in managing absenteeism. Since the facts are not all that there is to the absence of the employees. The manager has to decide on whether the employee is correct in taking a leave or not. Such judgmental decisions need to have a balanced manager hence before any of the techniques are implemented; the manager needs to understand the valid reasons and physic of the mind. Along with all this the manager needs to remember that productivity is almost as important as work regularity. Another important detail in managing absenteeism is the role of communication. The manager needs to communicate well with the employees in order to understand the reasons for absence. The frequency of communication and the ease with which the employees can talk to the manager also play a critical part in management of absenteeism. If there is clear communication the manager would be able to help the employee reduce the frequency of absenteeism.

Once the techniques on absenteeism control as implemented, there is bound to be coldness and harshness in the work environment. This should be regulated with the help of counseling and training. The employees need to understand that productivity, regularity and promotions go hand in hand. (McConnell, 2007, p.235)

VI Organizational behavior theory

In everyday practice, organizational behavior becomes important in the well being and productivity of an organization. If the organization is managed by a supervisor who knows the theories and how to implement it, his team will not only function properly but will also innovate and challenge it and others. Managing the team with the theories relevant to their line of work and attitude hence becomes necessary. In general, the organizational behaviors theories help and benefit the employees as well as the organization. Not only do the employees feel wanted and content but their job satisfaction increases along with their productivity. This makes the organization increase its profitability as well as its goodwill which is extremely important in making a sale or coming across a competent employee.

The way a manager uses the organizational behaviors theory to his advantage, analyzing the work of the organization along with the mindset of the employees working, will lead him to increase his chances to get more work out of the employees. Since all organizations are affected by human behavior, theories on how to deal with them help managers more in functions like planning and controlling.

The management of an organization needs to have values, visions and goals to attain and in order to achieve them it needs to create an organizational structure by which it can define itself. It can be informal, social or extremely formal. The culture of the management its communication techniques and motivational standards determine an organizations everyday productivity.

If an organizational behavior is autocratic which means the manager only gives orders which are carried out by employees, productively would drop and the employees would hold grievances which are never heard by the organization. When excess authority is used productivity decreases. However in certain areas authority needs to be used so that the employees do not end up taking advantage of the company’s leniency. (Pomsuwan, 2007)

When an organization uses a supportive behavioral strategy, it makes the employees as well as the managers feel needed and increase in motivation, morale and productively. Here the issues of the employees are duly addressed and the managers help the employees in reaching the peak in their performance. An employee’s receives status and recognition which makes him feels important and in turn gives back to the company. However sometimes along with this theory, the autocratic behavior can be used as some employees tend to take advantage of the company and avoid work.

Organizational behavior is all about the behavior of the employees in the organization. To understand them and to control them is the key in these theories. There are many other important organizational behavior theories ranging from McGregor’s Theory X and Y, Maslow’s hierarchy of needs theory etc. These theories provide bases on managing an organization and its behavior. They aid the manager in making important business decisions. Generally the manager needs to understand where the employees stand in these theories and then use techniques which would affect them. For example according to Maslow’s theory an employee who does not work to his full productively levels would increase productivity if given a raise. The manager would recognize the importance of productivity and allocate a raise. (Price, 2008)

VII Conclusion

Managers need to use organizational behavior theories in order to reduce absenteeism and increase productively. Not only that but using the theories for all problems can aid managers in finding solutions. Absenteeism is a critical part of business and should not be ignored. Handling it properly along with rules and regulations, a manager can increase the employee regularity.

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