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Absenteeism: 5 causes and how to prevent it

By November 15, 2022No Comments

Absenteeism refers to an ongoing pattern of missing or skipping work.

Everyone must take days off work from time to time; things like genuine sickness, attending the annual parents evening, and car related issues are some of the most common and plausible reasons. However, when these days off become too frequent, it becomes a problem, and this problem is referred to as absenteeism. 

Absenteeism is a negative situation for everyone involved. Regardless of whether an employee is absent for a single day or an entire week, their absence will have a noticeable knock-on effect on their peers, their own workload and ability, and even their management.

In this article, we explore five reasons for absenteeism in the workplace and how to avoid it.

What’s the impact of absenteeism?

Every year, absenteeism costs UK businesses tens of thousands of pounds. These costs can be attributed to several factors including:

  • The sick pay given to the absentee during their time off work even when they are not actually working (loss of profit).
  • Additional wage costs associated with obtaining a replacement worker at late notice, often resulting in overtime pay or high-cost agency pay rates.
  • The administrative costs related to handling absenteeism such as management time lost sourcing a replacement worker.

Additionally, further indirect cost implications and effects of absenteeism include:

  • Reduced productivity due to the increased number of shifts given to replacement staff.
  • Potential safety issues due to lower skilled employees covering for higher skilled absent staff.
  • Tension between employees.
  • Decreased morale among employees who must pick up additional shifts to cover for the absentee.

What are the five main causes of absenteeism in the workplace?

Work Related Stress

According to HSE, in 2020/21 stress, depression or anxiety accounted for 50% of all work-related ill health cases. In addition, the human health and social work industries were listed as number two in the list of industries with higher-than-average rates of stress, depression, or anxiety. This is hardly surprising, as workers in the homecare industry often work long hours, receive limited support, and frequently work alone.

Job Dissatisfaction

Job dissatisfaction is when an employee does not feel content in their role. This is often a result of numerous personal or work-related problems such as having unsupportive management, lack of progression in their role, or a feeling underpaid.

Employee Burnout

A common problem faced by staff working in the homecare industry is employee burnout. Recognised by the World Health Organisation, employee burnout is a particular type of work-related which causes workers to feel an overwhelming sense of exhaustion from their role, such as:

  • Emotional exhaustion
  • Mental exhaustion
  • Physical exhaustion

This type of exhaustion often leads to an employee experiencing lack of motivation, reduced productivity, depleted energy levels, and feeling unable to complete their work.

Team And Management Issues

An employee may feel uncomfortable coming into work due to problems relating to management such as:

  • Absent management.
  • Poor relationships with members of the management team.
  • Feeling as though they are being micromanaged – sometimes over management is too much.
  • Lack of structured management.

In addition, employees may feel like they don’t feel comfortable with their peers for reasons such as:

  • Poor relationships with other team members due to incompatibility.
  • Feeling like some team members are ‘favoured’ more than others.
  • Reduced morale due to being allocated to calls with other members of staff who might not work as hard or have the same level of training.
  • Feeling like they do not ‘fit in’.

Lack of Flexibility

Since the Covid-19 pandemic began, flexible working has become the norm throughout most industries and workplaces. Everyone has their own individual personal and social concerns that they need to adhere to in order to experience a healthy work-life balance. 

However, if employees do not have a flexible working schedule or healthy work-life balance, it can lead them to skip work in order to stick to their personal and social responsibilities.

How to overcome and reduce absenteeism in the workplace

To truly overcome recurring absenteeism in the workplace, you must first identify the root cause. Is your employee experiencing health issues? Are they stressed in their role? Or do they require more flexibility?

Once you have addressed the cause of absenteeism, you can make a plan to help avoid it. Other ways to reduce absenteeism in the workplace include:

  • Hold regular meetings with your employees and provide them with an opportunity to address any potential issues.
  • Offer a flexible work schedule where possible.
  • Motivate your employees with performance-based rewards.
  • Only allocate employees with the necessary training and experience for the role. 

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