Absenteeism: the Costs of Unscheduled Absences Hurt

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ABSENTEEISM

Absenteeism is the term generally used to refer to unscheduled employee absences from the workplace. Many causes of absenteeism are legitimate—personal illness or family issues, for example—but absenteeism also can often be traced to other factors such as a poor work environment or workers who are not committed to their jobs. If such absences become excessive, they can have a seriously adverse impact on a business's operations and, ultimately, its profitability. COSTS OF ABSENTEEISM

"Unscheduled absences hurt," wrote M. Michael Markowich in a summary of an article he wrote for the September 1993 issue of Small Business Reports. "Most sick leave policies foster a 'use it or lose it' mind-set, and employees feel entitled to a certain number of sick days." Markowich went on to note that a survey of 5,000 companies conducted by Commerce Clearing House Inc. (CCH Inc.) found that unscheduled absences cost small businesses, at that time, $62,636 a year, on average, in lost productivity, sick time, and replacement costs. Indeed, absenteeism can take a financial toll on a small business (or a multinational company, for that matter) in several different respects. The most obvious cost is in the area of sick leave benefits—provided that the business offers such benefits—but there are significant hidden costs as well. The SOHO Guidebook cites the following as notable hidden cost factors associated with absenteeism: * Lost productivity of the absent employee

* Overtime for other employees to fill in
* Decreased overall productivity of those employees
* Any temporary help costs incurred
* Possible loss of business or dissatisfied customers
* Problems with employee morale
Indeed, Attacking Absenteeism author Lynn Tylczak contended that excessive absenteeism, if left unchecked, can wear on a company in numerous ways. "[Absenteeism] forces managers to deal with problems of morale, discipline, job dissatisfaction, job stress, team...
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