Absenteeism and its Effects

In a recent study conducted by SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management), research was conducted on the total impact employee absences have on organizations and their workforces. The study explored the many residual effects that employee absences have on an organization, including how they affect co-worker and supervisor productivity, the use of replacement workers and overtime to cover absences, direct and indirect costs of paid time off, and the importance of policies and procedures to manage employee absences.

Uncovered in the study were interesting facts on absenteeism in the U.S. including the Public Sector workforce. The total cost of paid time off as a percentage of payroll, when accounting for both direct and indirect costs, ranged from 20.9 to 22.1 percent in the U.S. This is almost a quarter of an employer’s total payroll. Unplanned absences have more negative effects on organizations compared to planned absences with additional workload and disrupting work of others among the top-three perceived effects of unplanned absences. “Increases stress” rounded out the top three negative effects list.

In the U.S., unplanned absences add to workload (69 percent), increase stress (61 percent), disrupt work of others (59 percent), and hurt employee morale (48 percent). In a related “Staying@Work” study by Towers Watson and National Business Group in 2013, nearly eight out of ten organizations cited stress as the top workplace health issue – more than smoking, poor nutrition, and employee obesity. In the same survey, employees named inadequate staffing as their top source of stress.

Aside from these negative experiences for employees, the employers also have to look at how it impacts them. Take for example leave liability. Public Sector organizations continue to accept written requests via e-mail or paper form for time-off requests, and many still use homegrown systems, manual spreadsheets, or paper timesheets to manage and enforce time-off policies. Some don’t even have a formal, written attendance policy in place. Visibility into these costs and trends will provide governments the ability to predict and budget for these unavoidable expenses. Is this achievable with manual workforce management systems? An assessment of current processes will quickly determine what is and is not feasible. Absenteeism is a cost worth looking into.

Author: Tracy Coleman, Sales Executive – Kronos for Public Sector