High Absenteeism in Workplaces

High absenteeism is a real problem. How does an organisation address the problem when talented employees miss work at high rates?  Obviously they expect and plan for people to miss a certain number of days of the job however high absenteeism can be a blow to employers.  Over time the impact on the organisation warrants attention.

If you want to understand the reasons behind your workplace’s high absenteeism, you may find that the solution is simpler than you’d expect.

What causes high absenteeism?

Beyond the occasional cold or stomach bug, what makes an employee miss an excessive amount of work? There are a wide variety of reasons, including:

  • Harassment. Yes you read right! An employee who doesn’t feel safe or respected at work is less likely to turn up every day. Harassment in any form—whether from co-workers or supervisors—is not only unacceptable but can lead to depression, anxiety and avoidance.
  • Illness or disability.  Not all disabilities are visible. Have you considered whether an employee is struggling with a chronic health issue or non-visible disability such as mental illness?  Not only can it affect their lives in a massive way, it also affects their job performance.
  • Problems with childcare. How many of your staff are single mums?  Childcare can be a very real concern for working parents. The need to care for a sick child or perform drop off and pick-up can be challenging. A parents may often feel the need to lie about the reason they’re missing work, for fear that they won’t be able to use any paid time off.
  • Burnout (or disengagement). Workers who aren’t motivated by their job are even less motivated to make it to work every day. Disengaged employees might feel misunderstood, ineffective, or frustrated, even if they want to be more effective in the workplace.

High absenteeism is usually a point of frustration for both employee and employer and can affect every aspect of the organisation; from customer service, to productivity to sustainability.

How can employers help? 

When employers promote inclusion and diversity in their workplace, they also lower the risk of high absenteeism. Organisations must accept that all workers have challenges—and that those challenges will vary depending on a person’s background. By approaching those challenges with empathy, and improving communication with employees, employers can create a flexible environment where employees are able to do their very best work.

So, what can you do?

  • Check in with employees. Communication is key. People from cultural backgrounds may have a lot going on in their life. Have a frank discussion and try and work out something together.  Plan to tailor to their individual situation.  When your employee sees that you understand the challenges they face, they will be less stressed overall (and more efficient when they’re at work!).
  • Be flexible. Sometimes, even just a little leeway will help an employee feel like showing up to work consistently is more manageable. For example, offering flexibility to women can help mothers who are responsible for childcare—even if they simply need to work a few hours less a week, or perhaps use paid sick leave when their children are ill.
  • Walk the walk. Talking about diversity is great, but make sure that your employees also see you implementing these ideas consistently in your workplace, whether you are leading a discussion about different cultures, enforcing anti-bullying policies, or simply encouraging open communication between employees (and supervisors). Employees will feel valued and more comfortable coming to you with personal problems if they view you as supportive and inclusive.

Of course, addressing high absenteeism is a complicated issue, but when you recognise diversity in your workplace, it becomes a lot easier to spot a worker’s individual problem, and then address that problem effectively…together.

Speak Your Mind