Absenteeism in the workplace

16 April 2019

A frustrating topic for business owners, but there are occasions when even your best members of staff have to take time off from work. 

In this guide, we explore how to manage this issue and the legal rights of your employees. 

What is absenteeism in the workplace?

It refers to habitual absences from work without good reason. It doesn't include involuntary or occasional absences for unavoidable reasons such as accidents or sickness.

Employee absenteeism can be a frustrating HR issue for you. Occasional time off is unavoidable, but if certain employees are not attending on a more persistent basis, it’s important to know how to handle problems caused by it.

How does absenteeism affect the workplace?

Studies show businesses lose 11 million workdays due to it each year, costing the Irish economy €1.5 billion. The effects of absenteeism in the workplace include:

  • Direct financial consequences on profitability.
  • Indirect consequences on productivity.  

From a productivity point of view, excessive time off may have a negative impact on employee morale, put pressure on staff to cover for absent employees, and lead to dips in service level quality.

What causes absenteeism?

The Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) published research finding that the most common causes of absenteeism in Ireland are stress, anxiety, and depression (SAD) and musculo-skeletal disorders (MSD) respectively.

How to manage absenteeism in the workplace

One way to reduce employee absenteeism is to look at creating an absence management policy. This is the most effective way to go about it. 

With an effective policy, you'll be in a position to track and measure the frequency, duration and reasons for your employees’ time off work.

An absence tracking system will also allow you to identify concerns with attendance and to deal with any problems staff might be experiencing. It's not always an issue that should lead to disciplinary action.

Employees may take time off to avoid confronting work-related problems or personal issues outside work.

To save time and money, many businesses are making use of online absence management tools as part of their efforts to manage absenteeism.

Importance of employee wellbeing and engagement

Wellbeing initiatives are also likely to reduce incidences. To engage your workforce, you're much less likely to experience issues with time off.   

The introduction of an Employee Assistance Programme, regular communication between line management and employees, tackling the causes of work-related stress and work-life balance initiatives are all proven ways to reduce this issue.

Need our help?

If you’re looking for assistance with an absence issue, or any other HR matters, get in contact for immediate assistance: 0818 923 923.

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