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How Much is Employee Absenteeism Costing You?

How Much is Employee Absenteeism Costing You?

This is sure going to be a tough week. John, Sue and Bob are all out on vacation. I can’t believe I allowed the three of them to be out at once. How are we going to handle business?

Help. Tina just called in sick and we’ve got a deadline to meet.

I don’t mean to be skeptical but it seems like we have a lot of employees getting “sick” on Fridays during the summer.

Employers – does this sound familiar? Have these words ever played through your mind? Probably so!

So yes, it’s summer and employers know that employees will be taking their vacations. In most cases the vacation schedule has been planned and temps have been brought in to pick up the slack or perhaps existing employees have been asked to pitch in and manage the work that is usually executed by the vacationing staff.

But it is those unplanned “sick” days that can wreak havoc on your company’s finances and employee morale:

  • Your reputation can suffer if productivity and deliverables don’t meet client expectations.
  • Once a company’s reputation gets shaky, it becomes more difficult to get new customers and retain existing ones.
  • Employee morale and team collaboration will also be impacted when too few people are called upon to execute the work in a timely manner.
  • There’s negativity and a lack of respect for the people that are out thereby causing staff to do two jobs instead of one.

And we all know that sick days are not only used for illness. Childcare, eldercare, family emergencies, job hunting, depression and burnout can be the underlying reasons why employees aren’t on the job. The cost to a company can be staggering and is estimated at upwards of $3,600 per hourly employee per year and $2,650 per salaried employee per year.

It’s understandable that not many companies can afford to absorb this cost. So what’s an employer to do? Here are some steps to consider:

  • Establish a comprehensive paid sick and personal day policy so that all employees know exactly what they are entitled to. Be certain to leave nothing to the imagination and review the policy with your employees frequently.
  • Cross-train all employees so that there is minimal disruption when employees call out sick. Document the tasks associated with each job so that temps and/or the existing staff that are executing the job will be able to do so effectively and efficiently.
  • Provide your employees with health-related benefits such as discounts to health clubs and Weight Watchers. Healthy employees means less illness. Consider bringing in professionals to run “lunch ‘n learn” programs on exercise, work-life balance, eldercare and childcare options to educate your staff and help them to make decisions that are good for themselves and the company.
  • Offer solutions and options so that employees don’t have to miss work. For instance a valuable employee that continually misses work because of childcare issues might benefit from some sort of flextime or job-sharing arrangement.
  • Maintain an accurate and thorough record of employee absences and the corresponding reason(s) for the missed days, and inform all employees that this record-keeping system is in place. If employees know that their attendance is being monitored they are more likely to adhere to the established absentee policy.
  • Make certain that there is a high level of employee satisfaction. Satisfied employees are more productive, experience less stress and will usually have better attendance than employees that are unmotivated and feel unrecognized.
  • When all else fails and you’ve given ample warning you might need to terminate an employee that flagrantly ignores the sick day policy, and seems to have little respect for the company and the problems that their absenteeism is causing. By terminating the repeat offender you will also send a message to the rest of the staff that excess absenteeism will not be tolerated.

Make certain that your employees know that you are “on their side.” Support them with cross training and job / procedure documentation so if they have to lend a hand they’ll be able to do so successfully.

And be sure to check your policies now. If they’re not working for you it just might be time to re-engineer what’s in place. As always, the best time to start is now!

From the August 2014 Unique Business Solutions Newsletter


For further discussion or comments, please contact Gail L. Trugman Nikol, President Unique Business Solutions, gail@ubsassociates.com or call (516) 935-5641.


August 5, 2014