Obviously, a business needs its employees; in fact, its very success hinges on them. Whilst your recruitment processes are likely designed to ensure that you are continually hiring the best talent, this doesn’t mean much if you find your business experiencing high levels of absenteeism. Consistent absences can have a significant effect on the business’s bottom line through dips in productivity and morale. Now, it is worth emphasising that not every absence is within your control, but that being said. There are several elements within your control that could be contributing to the levels of absenteeism. Let’s take a look at the causes and how you can adjust your approach to business to combat them.
In order to understand absenteeism, you first need to understand the causes. Obviously, as mentioned above, there are a few legitimate reasons, such as illness or bereavement, and there is very little that you can do about them. You will not be able to completely eradicate absences, but you can limit them. If you want to see whether there are any areas where the business is lacking in terms of caring for the employees, then it could be worth sending out a survey or poll anonymously; for example, Vevox’s live polling feature is ideal for a multitude of situations and circumstances – it is great for business meetings and seminars.
Firstly, mental health issues can indeed be a legitimate cause for absence, and it will not always be within the control of either you as an employer or, indeed, the employee. However, there are a few things that you can do in an effort to safeguard the mental health of your workers.
Prioritise wellness in all aspects and strive to provide employees with support, whether that is within the business or via third parties, such as providing access to mental health apps. You should also encourage a healthy work/life balance to avoid placing too much stress on your employees and increasing the likelihood of burnout.
Next, employee satisfaction, engagement and morale. To put it simply, if your employees are unhappy in their roles, then they are much more likely to be absent more frequently. Conversely, workers who are happy and engaged within their roles are much more likely to strive for more and have higher levels of attendance. This is why you should think about how you can increase engagement and boost morale. Absenteeism due to low morale can become a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy; when morale is low, an employee is more likely to be absent, which can impact the morale of the remaining employees who then decide to be absent too and so on and so forth.
Within a similar vein, a hostile work environment can also lead to absenteeism. In some instances, your employees might not be happy or engaged with their role because they find themselves feeling uncomfortable or unsafe for whatever reason. These factors are usually entirely within your control. Is the company culture lacking – and if so, why? Is there anything else that you can do to create a more positive and inclusive work environment? What is your policy surrounding bullying in the workplace? Is it robust enough?
Sometimes, there are other forms of absences the control of even your employees. Workers today have a number of different responsibilities and obligations which may need to become the priority or take precedent at times, and they can’t help this. Maybe they need to care for a family member; perhaps they have personal healthcare appointments. Whatever the case may be, they might not be available. However, your approach to working could be forcing their hand here. If you were to offer more flexible working approaches, then your employees might not need to take any time off. They could work from home or make up the time lost at their convenience. When it becomes less about how the work is being done but simply that it is, the whole business can benefit.
Lastly, any combination of the issues above could snowball into other absences. If your employee doesn’t feel valued, needs more flexibility, doesn’t feel supported, or whatever the case may be, they are far more likely to want to leave. When an employee has already mentally checked out and decided to look for another job, they are more likely to be absent. This is exactly why you should take the above reasons seriously in order to ensure better levels of staff retention and consistency across all working processes.
What Effects Does Absenteeism Have on a Business?
Absenteeism has several effects on a business, some of which are obvious and others less so. First and foremost, absenteeism costs a business money, and this can lead to significant losses in revenue. This is because money needs to be found to cover the worker’s workload, the absence can also cause disruptions in the consistency of the processes, which can take longer to solve, and productivity is also affected; all of this takes a toll on your business’s bottom line.
In addition to the business’s finances, absenteeism also affects the other workers. They are expected to step in and oftentimes increase their own workloads to cover the absence, which is not necessarily fair to them. In doing so, they are put under more strain which can lead to them feeling underappreciated, devalued and make them more prone to burnout. This, in turn, can then lead to further absences, which is ironic when this is exactly what you are trying to avoid.
Depending on the nature of your business and the way in which it operates, absences can also affect the public-facing aspects of your business. A reduction in manpower and workers can then have a knock-on effect on the products and services that your business can reliably provide on any given day, including customer service. If consumers do not experience your business when it is at its best, then they are very unlikely to want to give you their repeat business. The business’s reputation is then likely to suffer, which again means fewer sales and less revenue.
Finally, absenteeism can also be incredibly frustrating for the management team; while the other workers are generally expected to cover the absence, it is the management team that really has to pick up the slack and take on these extra organizational tasks to keep everything running as smoothly as it should. Absences do require a fair amount of admin. Your business is likely to have a process in place for reporting absences. They need to be managed, the wages of the employee adjusted in response, additional personnel called in, a return to work organised and patterns to be assessed and tracked in order to work out whether the workers need to be put on an attendance improvement plan, receive warnings or whatever else. It can be exceptionally tiresome.
The biggest issue surrounding absenteeism is obviously the loss in revenue that it can create for a business. However, this isn’t the only issue that it can create, absenteeism can have a number of effects on your business, from the other workers to the consumers and even the management team too. As stated a couple of times, you will never be able to eradicate absences in their entirety because there are always going to be legitimate reasons for absences; however, you can limit unnecessary absenteeism. The causes listed above could be contributing to the levels of absenteeism within your business. Think about the processes and strategies in place. Are they supporting your employees as they should?