How to Reduce Absenteeism

Last Updated Oct 12, 2007 3:16 PM EDT

How to Reduce AbsenteeismIf you've been managing a team for a while you may start to be able to predict when you're employees will call in sick. So and so always gets the flu on Mondays, a number of folks always come down with something around the holidays, and that one guy down the hall is always out when the pollen count is high. Managers are often aware that sick days are not really sick days, but new research out this week from employment law firm CCH puts some hard numbers to those gut instincts.

The survey found that "two-thirds of U.S. workers who call in sick at the last minute do so for reasons other than physical illness." Businesses estimate that unscheduled absences cost them more than $760,000 in direct payroll costs, and that's not including the cost of lower productivity and morale, and lost revenue.

So should you crack down on wayward employees? CCH Analyst Pamela Wolf suggests instead that businesses recognize the employees are juggling work and family responsibilities. She comments:

"Most people today are juggling the demands of busy personal and professional lives, and are trying to do their very best in both places. Organizations need to stop the tug of war with people for their time, and become a partner to employees to help them, and the business overall, be more successful."
So what can your business do to reduce costs lost to absenteeism and also help your talent keep their sanity. The short answer is don't be rigid and help them keep healthy. CCH recommends that businesses offer a wide range of work-life programs
On a scale of 1 to 5 (with 5 being most effective), the work-life programs rated highest for reducing unscheduled absences are Alternative Work Arrangements (3.6), Telecommuting (3.5), Compressed Work Week (3.3), Leave for School Functions (3.2) and Flu Shot Programs (3.2).
A blend of these programs could do wonders for the mental and physical health of your employees, as well as your bottom line. For more information about how to implement these programs, check out the in-depth survey results.

(Image of sick day by Syma See, CC 2.0)

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    Jessica lives in London where she works as a freelance writer with interests in green business and tech, management, and marketing.