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Worker Absenteeism - how to measure it and reduce it


Are you tired of feeling like every time the phone rings, it is another employee calling in sick?Sure people get sick.But did you know that employees deciding to stay home because they feel entitled to a day off accounts for about 19% of annual worker absenteeism?Worker absenteeism causes managers to stress over how they will run their operation efficiently, and other workers stress over having to pick up the other guy's slack.

Worker absenteeism is also expensive.Not only does sick pay add up, but worker absenteeism adds to the overall stress and decreased moral.


It is said that worker absenteeism totals an average of 6-7% of annual profits.How are you to know if this epidemic is hitting your company unless you take action to measure it.The most obvious way to measure worker absenteeism is to record how many days have employees not come in to work.Surely, most companies have some sort of clock-in or accountability set-up making this step relatively simple.Once you have your numbers, surely it would be interesting to know how many of those workers were genuinely ill. Asking the employee directly if they lied about their well being is not a good idea.Perhaps a better idea would be a less intimidating anonymous survey.Ask, "Have you ever called in sick for reasons other than actually being ill?"Then ask what the reasons were.The employees are often happy to express their frustrations.They want changes just as badly as you as the manager want things to change.Employees are more likely to be honest if there is no way to trace their comments back to them.Exit surveys are other good opportunities to ask for an employee's honest answers.When the worker doesn't fear loosing his job, he is usually more open with his true feelings.


Employees are not perfect.Human error, burnout, and frustration are inevitable. It is difficult to make changes to the way that people think and perform.An individual is more likely to change personal behavior is it is a choice that he has made, not an order given.Below are some suggestions for encouraging worker compliance and creating motivation for personal attendance responsibilities, sometimes referred to as a worker absenteeism preventative program:
- Wage Payment/Incentive System - Workers respond to monetary incentives.If they know that wage payment is dependent on production quality, you can bet that they are going to try harder to produce the best product possible.
- Hourly Earnings - Evaluate how your pay method relates to production.Is the slothful worker being paid equal to the worker who is more efficient?Is your goal quantity or quality and does your compensation reflect your answer?
- Cash Rewards and Recognition - Healthy competition can do wonders for an unmotivated group.Spice things up!Having fun is not against the rules.Let your outstanding employees know that their efforts have not gone unnoticed.
- Breaks - people can only work so hard for so long.Burning your employees out by overworking them is not good incentive for continuing to work at their peak abilities.
- Competency overload - Part of enjoying your work is understanding your contribution to the bigger picture and being confident in your efforts.Insufficient training, Stress, fatigue, constantly malfunctioning equipment, etc. can discourage your workers.Make sure you are given them the tools necessary to do their best.
- Child care and Employee assistance programs - Let your actions show that you care about your employees.Provide them with services that will reduce the stresses experience not only at work but outside of work as well.It is unreasonable to expect 100% focus from a worker who is having a traumatic situation at home.Be sensitive to the individual.

Although these suggestions seem a bit elementary, less than 30% of companies actually implement an aggressive worker absenteeism preventative program.In today's society of wanting everything without giving anything, both the worker and the employer lose.

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