Absenteeism - Explained
What is Absenteeism?
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What is Absenteeism?
Absenteeism refers to a habitual pattern of absence from a job without a proper acceptable reason. It is non-presence of an employee at their workplace, beyond the normal vacations and leaves for valid reasons. Absenteeism may indicate to job dissatisfaction and poor work environment or the workers lack of commitment to their job. Chronic medical condition, personal issues, family problems, etc. may also lead to absenteeism. Excessive absenteeism may impact the operation of the company adversely and as a result, the company may want to terminate the employee to protect the interests of the company. However, in the United States, some reasons of non-presence in the workplace are legally protected, that means if an employee fails to be present at their workplace due to any of these reasons, the company cannot terminate them on that ground.
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What Causes Absenteeism?
Employees are expected to take some time off from work occasionally for some valid reasons like medical leave, jury duty, military work or bereavement. Employees need to furnish proof of leave (a doctors note, jury notice, obituary, etc.) for the approval of such leaves. Companies generally approve some paid leave to their employees on such occasions. Employers are obligated by law to approve leaves under the conditions mandated by the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Employers are also obligated to allow their employees to perform jury duty, but those may not be paid leaves in all states. If an employee misses work repeatedly and unexpectedly beyond these legitimate leaves, that is considered as chronic absenteeism. It is the absence beyond the occasional excused absence. It may be considered as the violation of the employees contract and may lead to termination. Companies may have to bear financial loss due to their employees chronic absenteeism. Companies cannot plan for these unexpected absences, as a result, either they must hire last-minute temporary workers or pay overtime to the regular employees. However, companies generally maintain a higher staffing level regularly in anticipation of absences, but that may not be enough to cover the labor loss due to chronic absenteeism. The most common cause of absenteeism, cited by the workers is a medical condition. The U.S. Department of Labor data shows the companies lose approximately 2.8 million workdays a year because of employee illnesses and injuries. Some of the other reasons for absenteeism include: Overwork: Employees who work for long hours in high-stake roles may take some time off from work due to mental and physical stress. It is more likely to be absent from work if an employee feels that his/her contribution to the company is unappreciated or unnoticed. Workplace harassment: The employees who are bullied by fellow workers or harassed by the management on a regular basis, are more likely to miss the work to avoid the harassment. Mental health issues: Employees struggling with mental health issues often miss work due to their inability to cope up in the office environment. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, depression is the main cause of absenteeism in the United States. Lack of motivation: Employees often ditch work if they are not passionate about the work they are obligated to do. Their lack of motivation leads to chronic absenteeism. Family obligations: Employees often miss their work due to several family issues which they must take care of. This may also include childcare or elder care. If an employer witnesses a rise of absenteeism in their company, they must take some actions to prevent it. These actions may include: Improving the working environment: A healthy working environment is a key to curb the absenteeism. The workers must feel safe and encouraged to come to the workplace. The management should ensure that each employee feels appreciated for their contribution and no one is harassed or bullied inside the workplace. Formulating a well-defined leave policy: The leave policy of the company should be well defined, and it should be communicated clearly to all employees. There shouldn't be any gray area regarding the taking days off. Individual Performance review: The management should facilitate one to one dialogue between the employees and their supervisor. The workers should be given the space to openly discuss their problems. Childcare center: A company may want to open a childcare center where the employees can leave their children during working hours. That will ensure that the employees do not have to depend on any babysitter. Sensitization on mental health: People with mental health issues often look for a safe working space. A company must take care that all its employees are adequately sensitized on the mental health issues. Workshops can be organized to address this issue. Incentive Plans: Companies may introduce incentive plans to boost the morale of the employees and encourage them to do better in the workplace.