(Created January 1987 and last edited September 2013)
The management of workplace attendance is an important aspect of supervision in the workplace.
The cost of absenteeism is greater than the direct payment of wages and benefits paid durance the absence. Organizations must also consider the indirect costs of staffing, scheduling, re-training, lost productivity, diminished moral, turnover, and opportunity cost. The indirect costs often exceed the direct cost of absenteeism.
The annual cost of absenteeism is $2,500, which includes both direct and indirect costs based on 9.3 days absent (Dabboussy & Uppal, 2012) out of 250 working days (Dabboussy & Uppal, 2012) and an average payroll of $47,771 ("Industrial aggregate excluding unclassified businesses", 2013).
Effective supervisory efforts to manage attendance will affect a relatively small percentage of employees, but will result in substantial savings, increased productivity and morale.
Absenteeism is the failure of employees to report for work when they are scheduled to work. Employees who are away from work on recognized holidays, vacations, or approved leaves of absence would not be included.
The causes of absenteeism are many and include:
Absenteeism may have repercussions, which include:
Many organizations allocate 3% of their labour budget for absenteeism based on an average of eight (8) working days missed per employee annually. Since the rate of absenteeism varies by industry, division and department it is best to compare to the most relevant benchmark available.
Labour Reports, Workers' Compensation Board Statistics and Statistics Canada provide paid sick leave statistics.
Surveys indicate the following generalities in absenteeism:
The definition, causes, affects on productivity, and costs of absenteeism are quite clear. The challenge is to develop methods that support attendance and control absenteeism, in such a way as not to create mistrust, costly administrative procedures and systems avoidance. Traditional methods of absenteeism control exclusively utilizing disciplinary procedures have proven to be ineffective. It is almost impossible to create a fair disciplinary procedure, because even well run disciplinary systems, which treat similar actions with consistent repercussions, are usually seen as unfair. This perception is common, because discipline alone neither identifies nor addresses the root causes of absenteeism. Every employee who takes time off in defiance of company regulations has reasons, which they believe justifies their actions. Unless a management attendance program identifies and addresses the causes of employee absenteeism, it will be ineffective and viewed as unfair. Traditional disciplinary programs alone can, at best, give the illusion of control. It is no secret that there are ways to beat even the best systems. The fear of discipline often only increases the desire to avoid management systems.
If absenteeism is to be controlled, the physical and emotional needs of employees must be addressed. In a 1985 study on "Rates of Absence among Nurses" it was found that 50% of absenteeism could be controlled through attending to employees’ physical and emotional needs.
The purpose of attendance management is to develop a willingness on the part of all employees to attend work regularly, and to assist them in motivating their co-workers to attend work regularly. This can be done through;
Successful administration of an attendance management program requires managers and supervisors to be aware of, and to create work environments in which the following can be actualized;
This paper provides the information necessary to begin an effective attendance management program, which will yield long-term results. This paper is intended to be a guide rather than an instruction manual or policy. To make an attendance management program truly successful, it will require insight into the special dynamics present in your work place. It will require two-way communication, as both the needs of the employees and of management must be met if good attendance is to be achieved. Attendance is the responsibility of everyone, especially those who directly manage the human resources of your organization.
Attendance is not only an expectation; employers have the right to receive good attendance. Each and every employee has a contractual obligation to attend work regularly. All levels of management must believe in, be committed to, and communicate their expectations of good attendance. If a specific number of sick days are considered acceptable per employee, at best that will be the result. Employees will live up to the expectations that you set for them. Expectations must be clear to both management and employees in order for an attendance management program to get maximum results. Goals must be tangible. Attendance expectations must be clearly communicated and followed.
A common misconception about income protection plans is that they are a entitlements, like vacation benefit, and as such, should be fully utilized. The reality is that income protection plans are a form of insurance. The sole and only purpose of pay for sick leave is to assist in protecting employees against loss of income in the event of an unavoidable absence due to sickness or a non-work related injury. Use of income protection plans for any other purpose negates their intent and, therefore, is inappropriate. Communicating the true intent of income protection plans and our commitment to maintaining this original intent is an essential aspect of attendance management.