The Causes and Costs of Absenteeism in the Workplace — Part 1

by Kevin K. Johnson, Certified Senior Advisor (CSA)®

Over the past few years, our blog has discussed in detail, issues associated with lost productivity resulting from employee absenteeism that is brought about by elder caregiving. But what are other ‘common’ causes of workplace absenteeism?Risk Management

Causes of Workplace Absenteeism — Absenteeism is an employee’s intentional or habitual absence from work. While employers expect workers to miss a certain number of workdays each year, excessive absences can equate to decreased productivity and can have a major effect on company finances, morale and other factors. This article looks at the causes of absenteeism, the costs of lost productivity and what employers can do to reduce absenteeism rates in the workplace.

People miss work for a variety of reasons, many of which are legitimate and others less so. Some of the common causes of absenteeism include (but are not limited to):

  • Bullying and harassment – Employees who are bullied or harassed by coworkers and/or bosses are more likely to call in sick to avoid the situation
  • Burnout, stress and low morale – Heavy workloads, stressful meetings/presentations and feelings of being unappreciated can cause employees to avoid going into work. Personal stress (outside of work) can lead to absenteeism.
  • Childcare and eldercare – Employees may be forced to miss work in order to stay home and take care of a child/elder when normal arrangements have fallen through (for example, a sick caregiver or a snow day at school) or if a child/elder is sick.
  • Depression – According to the National Institute of Mental Health, the leading cause of absenteeism in the United States is depression. Depression can lead to substance abuse if people turn to drugs or alcohol to self-medicate their pain or anxiety.
  • Disengagement – Employees who are not committed to their jobs, coworkers and/or the company are more likely to miss work simply because they have no motivation to go.
  • Illness – Injuries, illness and medical appointments are the most commonly reported reasons for missing work (though not always the actual reason). Not surprisingly, each year during the cold and flu season, there is a dramatic spike in absenteeism rates for both full-time and part-time employees.
  • Injuries – Accidents can occur on the job or outside of work, resulting in absences. In addition to acute injuries, chronic injuries such as back and neck problems are a common cause of absenteeism.
  • Job hunting – Employees may call in sick to attend a job interview, visit with a headhunter or work on their resumes/CVs.
  • Partial shifts – Arriving late, leaving early and taking longer breaks than allowed are considered forms of absenteeism and can affect productivity and workplace morale.

Just think, the total cost of productivity loss due to eldercare alone is well over $33 billion per year for U.S. employers. Risk management planning is essential for employers to achieve the success they need.

In Part 2, I will take a different view of the costs associated with lost productivity.

CARING CONCIERGE eNEWSLETTER — Readers of our blog “Eldercare and the Workplace” may be unaware that we also have a monthly newsletter. Our electronic newsletter, simply titled “News from Caring Concierge” has been produced every month for the last 2 years. Its contents consists of articles and related resources regarding workplace productivity as it relates to the conservatively estimated +$30 billion aggregate cost lost to U.S. companies every year as their employees are challenged to address adult caregiving issues. If you would like to be included in our growing list of companies that receive this monthly eNewsletter, just send an email titled “Caring Concierge Newsletter—Subscribe” to me at kevin.johnson@caringconcierge.com. I’ll simply add you our distribution list. Should you wish, you can easily unsubscribe and please know that we never share your contact information with any other entity.

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About Caring Concierge
Caring Concierge is a risk management company providing employers throughout northeast Ohio with solutions to address business productivity loss caused by employee lost time hours resulting from the crisis of adult caregiving. The Caring Concierge model provides these solutions at no cost to employers. One motivating issue that inspired the creation of Caring Concierge is the personal challenges I've faced juggling work and trying to manage eldercare issues associated with the care and well-being of my elder parents. My efforts in the eldercare issues also extend to volunteer service. I proudly serve as Chairman of the Board of Directors of Fairhill Partners (www.fairhilpartners.org), in Cleveland, OH., a non-profit organization focused on lifelong learning, intergenerational relationships, and successful aging. In addition to academic degrees in Mechanical Engineering (undergraduate) and Business Management (graduate), I have earned the professional designation of Certified Senior Advisor.

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