Introduction to Absenteeism
Absence is a phenomenon that is present in organizations that are large and small, public or private, urban or rural. It is an issue of concern for many managers because it is often costly for the organization as well as for individuals. Absence is affected by many factors as well as a myriad of attitudes. Some people believe that absence may be good for an organization while others do not. Absence has been studied for decades by numerous researchers, in a variety of ways. There have been varied findings regarding the effects of absence on the organization and the individual. One reason for the varied findings is that researchers have defined and measured absence differently. Some have measured it by total number of days absent, number of occasions, involuntary versus voluntary, and avoidable versus unavoidable.
Voluntary absences are often shorter in duration and are considered within the employee's control. Causes of voluntary absenteeism are more likely to be consistent over time than are causes of other absenteeism. An example of voluntary absenteeism may be when an employee has an appointment for a car tune up and, rather than changing the appointment, chooses to miss work to keep the appointment.
Involuntary absences are out of the employee's control such as a child's sudden illness or one's own illness. Additional measures have included adjacency measures (or absence building); absences surrounding scheduled days off. This has also been referred to as "blue Monday's"; when an individual has a pattern of taking Mondays off in addition to the weekend. This is more characteristic of voluntary absences. Lastly, inter temporal lag is defined as the ratio of average absence length to average length of attendance. Absence frequency (number of occasions) is more reflective of voluntary absenteeism than is the total number of days an employee was absent. Difference in measurement has resulted in difference in results.
There are many factors that contribute to absence. Mostly employee attendance is influenced by the employee's motivation to attend as well as ability to attend.
Two factors of an employee's motivation to attend are:
a. affective responses to the job situation
b. Internal or external pressures to attend.
Pressures to attend may include economic, social or personal reasons. For example, the employee may have a strong work ethic and therefore the pressure to attend is high, even though he or she may not be feeling well enough to be at work. The job situation variable is characterized by the following:
1.) Job scope, 2) job level, 3) role stress, 4) work group size, 5) leadership style,
6) Co-worker relations, 7) opportunities for advancement.
For example, a positive linear relationship between work group size and absenteeism; the larger the work group, the greater the likelihood of absence. Group cohesiveness explained 11% of the variance in absenteeism. "When employee's find accomplishment, pride and internal gratification in work, there is increased motivation to attend." They continue to argue that the higher the job level and the more involved an employee is with his or her job, the more likely they are to attend. Lack of motivation often results in increased avoidable absences. The more psychologically and financially committed an employee is, the less likely they are to be voluntarily absent. Organizational policies and practices as well as employee attitudes as having an influence on the employee's motivation to attend. Unfortunately, reasons for absence are not well understood because influencing factors are so varied.
Effect of Absenteeism
The consequences of absence can be categorized as negative or positive. Organizations tend to be more focused on negative organizational consequences of absence rather than positive. Some negative organizational consequences include :
Increased costs due to overtime.
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