4 Ways Complygate can Help Organizations Remain Compliant
Joseph Lawson was the pioneer and defined the concept of absenteeism as the failure to attend the workplace when an employee is scheduled to work. Absenteeism is a pervasive issue and one of the major HR problems for organisations around the world. In 2002, when HP merged with Compaq the organisation had 140,000 employees in 178 countries. Following the merger, HP decided to implement standard and consistent management approach to absence. HP knew the importance of the issue.
According to the research concluded by the labour departments of many countries it is evident that the level of absenteeism is higher in the public sector than in the private sector. In the UK absence from work is 60% higher in public sector, whereas it is much larger in Denmark – 84%. The question I would like to raise is does private and public sector attract different kinds of workers? The theory public service motivation (PSM) provides an idea of what motivates individuals to choose career in the public sector, which is high levels of prosocial motivation. Absence is an issue which has been the subject of debate for a prolonged period.
According to the Office for National Statistics some 141.4 million working days were lost because of sickness or injury in the United Kingdom in 2018, which is equivalent to 4.4 days per worker (In 1999 this figure was 8.5 days per worker). The four most common reasons for sickness related absence in 2018 were minor illnesses, musculoskeletal problems, accidents related injury or trauma and mental health conditions. The cost of absenteeism comes in two forms: 1) direct costs which is Sick Pay and loss of productivity and 2) indirect costs like lower customer satisfaction and poor product quality leading to a loss of future revenue. Sickness related absence costs a great deal to the NHS and loss of additional income to the government through taxes and through supply of benefits. Early research in 90’s show that both voluntary (planned) and involuntary (unplanned) absences are inversely related to the age of employees. Despite this there has been very less research on adolescent behaviour at work. Research suggests that gynaecological problems – most often menstrual cramps and pregnancy are 2 biggest reasons for women absenteeism. Women and older workers with long term health condition has the highest sickness related absenteeism rate in the UK.
- Work attendance incentives: Line managers should use carrot instead of the stick to reduce absenteeism. Sense of responsibility, achievement and recognition are very fundamental reasons why an employee look forward to coming to work. For a work attendance incentive to be successful employees must know that what is expected of them and what reward they will get for their efforts.
- Organisational health: Hostile and turbulent working environments are signs of the negative productivity and poor organisational health. Management practices which fully acknowledge and appreciates the role of employees in achieving organisational goals are the fundamental requirements for good health. If employees are motivated and ability to attend, absence will never happen which will lead to good organisational health. A noticeable example is nurses in NHS are often overloaded when covering for their absent colleagues, this may decrease their job motivation and work productivity and may lead to future absences.
- Bullying and harassment causes half of all work absences: The physical manifestations of harassment can be extreme – sickness, shaking, emotional and sleeplessness. Bullying is most carried out by managers toward juniors.
- Communication is key: Employees need to feel confident and comfortable when sharing the real issues and raising constructive criticism about how they are being managed. Employees enjoy working for leaders who are confident and take positive actions. Line managers are the key in reducing absenteeism. They should often act as role models and attend work when sick, if manageable.
- Workload issues: Overworked employees are far less likely to be productive or happy. Such employees often take frequent one-day absences. These absences may reflect mental health days, where an employee prefers to do something else rather than spending 7-8 hours working. Excess absenteeism leaves a poor reflection on a manager as well. Management should consider this factor in supervisor/line manager yearly performance review.
- The reason for the absence: Supervisors when completing return to work must be careful not to act in a judgemental manner. If the reason for absence is medical, the supervisor should note the reason without refuting the employee. The primary purpose of the meeting should be to show that the organisation is concerned about the employee absence and the supervisor cares about their wellbeing.
- Take decisive action: Every organisation categorises the absence as excused or unexcused. If an employee has too many unexcused absences and all informal counselling has failed, then disciplinary measures should be taken. The records of such measures should be properly maintained.
- Use of HRM Software to record attendance. To control absenteeism organisations must implement some sort of online attendance system, where the records are held correctly. The HRM software should be able to summarise and analyse the attendance data.
- Good work life balance: Work is a larger part of who we truly are. We can not put it on and take it off like our favourite piece of clothing. Even when we are not at work, we are involved with work with. Spend more time with the family or pick a hobby. When not work, try and do things which makes you happy.
- Work from home: Companies are catching onto the trend, the perception that employees can not work from home and will get not done is simply changing. With the use of tech and support of right policies people can be more productive working from home and there is a massive cost advantage to the organisation.
Excess absenteeism control should be carefully approached with a comprehensive strategy rather than relying on one or two methods to solve the issue. An approach combining rewards and discipline is necessary. Development of a wellness culture, rather than sickness, is required to reduce absence and improve employee performance. Growing a culture of employee participation in the process of decision-making will make organisations more innovative and productive.