Whatever business you’re in, if you employ people, the chances are that at some point, absenteeism has caused you a headache. But are you aware of just what it might be costing you?
By absenteeism, we mean unplanned absences. These are distinct from pre-planned leave, sabbaticals, or training time. Unplanned absence costs your business far more than the planned kind since you don’t get the opportunity to make arrangements in advance.
The true cost of absenteeism is tricky to work out: the obvious part is sick pay, but you will also have hidden costs. Replacement staff tends to be more expensive, either coming at an overtime rate or with fees for agency staff. Unexpected absences also cost you the time management spends dealing with the staff shortage. On top of this your productivity will be affected; Staff either work shorthanded or less experienced temporary staff take on the role of fully-trained permanent staff. Put together, absenteeism can American businesses as much as $3,600 per employee every year.
Find the balance
It is important though to strike a balance when addressing absenteeism. While you want to crack down on phony sick leave, going too far can cause unforeseen problems. Recently HR experts have begun to talk of a problem with “presenteeism”. This is when employees attend work when they should be sick in bed. Research suggests that this phenomenon costs UK businesses as much as £4,000 per employee every year, mostly due to lower productivity from sick workers, but also from other employees becoming sick after being infected by a well-meaning colleague.