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Why does absenteeism arise, and what can be done about it?

Supplier: Mitrefinch Australia By: Katrina Hall
25 February, 2016

With over three decades’ experience, and as the pioneers in automating workforce management, we’ve learned a thing or two about absenteeism. One of the questions we are often asked is ‘Why does absenteeism arise, and what can be done about it?’

As with many things, there is a plethora of reasons why an employee might be away from their duties. As life is full of surprises, there are undoubtedly going to be certain absences that are unavoidable (think broken down cars, accidents and more!). What we will talk about here are just some of the sources of absenteeism that can be reduced or avoided through rigorous workforce management strategies.

Waning motivation

Many employers are familiar with situations where employees have lowered motivation, and the associated increases in absenteeism, decreases in productivity, and more. Whether an employee is consciously choosing it or not, low morale and low motivation have a whole host of negative consequences for the workplace. Employees may choose to stay home rather than come in to work, take long lunch breaks, and even leave early. Employers need to get to the root of waning motivation and do everything in their power to turn things around before they are faced with even more problems such as high staff turnover, and poor company reputation. Questions that need to be asked are, ‘How do we detect declining motivation and productivity?’, ‘What needs to be done?’ and ‘What is the plan for boosting motivation and staff happiness?’

Poor health

Being sick is probably the most ubiquitous of all reasons cited, or sources, of staff being absent from work. Indeed, illness and injuries are an inevitable part of life. But many supervisors and managers may find themselves sometimes scratching their heads and questioning whether or not every sick day claimed is a genuine one. Fortunately, absence management software can serve as a unique insight into tracking patterns of absence – such as repeated sick days, or sick days occurring every Monday for example. Where patterns are present, supervisors may have good cause to investigate it further with the employee.

Bullying and harassment

One of the lesser discussed, yet very important causes behind unplanned absences is harassment and bullying in the workplace. This can range from casual mean-spirited remarks, to rampant cut-throat workplace politics, right up to the most serious cases of harassment, abuse and discrimination. Oftentimes, the stress caused by the untoward situation will cause a staff member to call in ‘sick’, although the real reason is much more sinister. Stamping out these kinds of situations, it is prudent to put in place the right policies, company culture, and even bespoke anti-bullying policies to ensure employees know what is expected, and know that bullying and harrassment is not accepted. Staff scheduling changes may serve as an effective stop-gap solution until things can be properly looked into.

Personal issues

Personal issues such as having to care for children can put many employees under pressure and cause them to take leave from work. Some of these absences may be avoided by establishing childcare schemes and flexible working arrangements where possible.