Staff absenteeism and how to deal with it?

 

Its the season to be jolly and party! And every person starts to get into the festive mood! Is it any wonder that almost 50% of all office staff all over the world start feeling “sick” just around party time! Or maybe a hangover just prevents staff from those all important review meetings which where scheduled for the end of the year! Whatever the reason, staff absenteeism can really put a damper on company productivity and that’s not good!  

Does UK have the worst record of Staff absenteeism and why? 

Taking a one-off sick leave is not too bad for everyone; but it’s the constant accumulated leaves that UK staff has been taking of late that’s put a damper on every company. So much so that a survey carried out by healthcare consultancy IHC reported the staggering fact that 40 million days are being made non-productive in the UK due to workplace absenteeism!  (Source- BBC) And that’s not a small number! Normally, each company factors a 15% absenteeism rate into their track record to cover for several health and personal problems of their staff. But the actual reason for such a huge loss of productivity is not due to the “flu and colds” cited by workers! The other reasons include personal family fights, bullying at the office, workplace insecurities, elderly relatives, children and their responsibilities and low-pay issues!

 Cost to the UK!

 As per a survey carried out by The Confederation of British Industry (CBI), in the year 1997 staff absenteeism cost the UK business a staggering 12 billion in 1996. That number was calculated at an average of GBP 533 for a single employee. You could easily quadruple the rate for the year 2009!

 Dealing with it?

 Most companies tend to see surveillance as the best way to deal with chronic absenteeism. This was followed by formal notification to the culprit, order; information passed on to line managers and collaboration to encourage workers to attend office everyday. But company spying is more than likely to aggravate the problem! No one likes to be spied upon. As a result newer policies which companies must put into effect should be more worker friendly like-

 1.    A flexible work time as per school timings for workers with children.

 2.    Child care facilities for new mothers who can take care of children at office creches.

 3.    Flexible but responsible leave policies.

 4.    Recognizing staff for their worth and then increasing responsibility on immediate managers to manage absenteeism and the reasons for it. Front line managers should also be given the leeway to deal with problems in a way that office work is not compromised but at the same time workers problems are also dealt with.

 There are no quick-fix solutions to such a huge problem. But when companies learn to treat their staff as a long term investment which has to be cultivated carefully; then a likely solution to the problem is possible. Of course this should work both ways too with staff appreciating what is being done to keep them happy! 

Richard Reid is the founder of Pinnacle Proactive, Specialising in theEmployee Assistance ProgramStress ManagementStaff Retention & Absenteeism. Take a Proactive Approach to Growing Your Organisation & its People. For more info visit http://www.pinnacleproactive.com

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