Training, Development & Retention
It’s only logical that companies are beginning to pay more attention to costs of an absent employee.
According to a survey by Mercer, "The Total Financial Impact of Employee Absences," the total cost of absence can equal as much as 36% of payroll when combined with the cost of absence related health care coverage.
Of that figure, 9% accounts for unplanned absences. Planned absences, like vacations and holidays, average 26.6%. For a midsize business, this unplanned absence can drain millions of dollars per year from the bottom.
With an aging workforce, current costs associated with absenteeism may only be the tip of the iceberg.
These are startling numbers and a call to action for all organizations to get a better handle on this often unchecked cost. And with the youngest Baby Boomers entering their 50s, the number of disability claims is sure to climb with their durations lasting longer.
Approximately 80% of older adults have at least one chronic condition, and more than 50% have at least two chronic conditions. Diabetes, the leading cause of heart disease, stroke, blindness in adults, and end-stage renal disease, already affects 21 million people in the United States. While that’s approximately 8% of the total population, over 20% of people in the U.S. over 60 are diabetic. Poorly controlled diabetes and other chronic conditions in an aging workplace have significant economic impact, not the least of which is having absent workers on your payroll.
The good news is that if properly managed, according to Bill Shapiro, president of Workplace Medical Corporation. “A decrease of only 10% in employee absence costs could produce a 1-2% payroll saving,” he revealed during a Workforce Trends Blog Talk Radio interview. That’s a big chunk of change.
Two-thirds of U.S. workers who call in sick at the last minute do so for reasons other than physical illness, according to the findings of the 17th annual CCH Unscheduled Absence Survey. It’s these unscheduled absences that are driving employers crazy. The nation’s largest employers estimate that unscheduled absenteeism costs their businesses more than $760,000 per year in direct payroll costs, and even more when lower productivity, lost revenue and the effects of poor morale are considered.
To determine the real cost of absenteeism, employers must consider both the direct and indirect costs incurred when an employee is absent. While direct costs of absenteeism can be more easily calculated, indirect costs often exceed the direct costs.
Direct costs are the benefits paid to the employee to provide income during an absence. These include sick, holiday and vacation pay as well as a disability benefit when available. They also include the wage cost of the replacement, overtime payment for present employees, and creep in the short-term and long-term disability costs. Employers already do a pretty good job of tracking these costs.
What many employers fail to do is consider the indirect costs. These costs are typically ignored or poorly tracked but account for a considerable and controllable loss dropped to the bottom line. Indirect costs include the lost productivity due to extra workload, time lost to train and support replacement workers, and lower morale. Absentee workers add administrative costs: staff time required to secure replacement and to manage the reporting.
Even having an ample supply of replacement workers slows but does not stop the "bleeding." The Mercer study reports that replacement workers are less efficient. Unplanned absences like casual sick days result in the highest per-day productivity loss, 21% versus just 15% for planned absences like vacation days. Replacement workers were also found to be:
71% as efficient during unplanned incidental absences
79% as efficient during planned absences
80% as efficient during extended absences
“The biggest mistake that companies make,” according to Shapiro, “is they lack proper policies and procedures….and even when they do, they do not enforce them consistently.” Supervisors often have to make their own rules about absences, which can vary depending on the supervisor’s philosophy, their engagement with employees, availability of replacement workers, busyness of production, and so on. Effective absenteeism management requires consistency. The disposition of any employee shouldn’t lie in the personal philosophy of a supervisor or HR manager.
Even when policies are in place, human resources and operations don’t always work hand-in-hand. Absenteeism is often seen as an HR problem. That might be true from an administrative perspective but missing workers ultimately affect production and finance even more. Employees often do not know whom to call. Even when they do know, the reporting mechanism doesn’t always support productivity. If the employee leaves a message with HR at 6 AM, what happens when HR staff doesn’t arrive until 8 AM? That’s a breach in the people supply chain since the supervisor’s shift started at 7 AM. Vice verse, if the employee notifies the supervisor, how and when is it reported back to HR? Who is responsible to enforce the policy, especially if the absence is unscheduled?
Managing absenteeism isn’t immune to Murphy’s Law either. Despite the best controls, a few employees will still abuse the system if they are given the opportunity. Screening out high-risk candidates before they become chronically absent employees is the best solution. Multiple studies confirm that pre-employment tests that assess employee attitude toward dependability and conscientiousness can reduce culpable absenteeism as much as 50%.
When it comes to managing absences, prevention, policies, and procedures are the best medicine.
Ira S Wolfe is president of Success Performance Solutions (SPS), a pre-employment and leadership testing firm he founded in 1996. His clients, primarily based in the United States and Canada, include small and mid-sized businesses in over a dozen industries. He is widely recognized as an expert in pre-employment personality tests, workforce trends, and social media.
A prolific author, columnist, business blogger and sought-after-expect on hiring and workplace trends, Ira S. Wolfe has been aptly described as both a “Gen Y masquerading in a Baby Boomer body” and “renaissance man.”
Ira is the author of the new book Geeks, Geezers, and Googlization: How to Manage the Unprecedented Convergence of the Wired, the Tired, and Technology in the Workplace. His other books include The Perfect Labor Storm 2.0, The Perfect Labor Storm Fact Book, Understanding Business Values and Motivators, and Coming Job Boom. He is a columnist for Business2Business Magazine and blogger for Bizmore.com, Vistage Buzz, and Toolbox for HR.
While speaking at conferences, workshops, and client meetings, he recognized that his audiences were puzzled, confused, and excited - all at the same time - by the communication revolution called social media. Having grown his business Success Performance Solutions on internet marketing, helping clients integrate social media into their marketing and recruiting strategies was a natural fit. His success led to forming a new business unit Link Me, Tweet Me, Friend Me to help small and medium sized businesses use social media in their recruiting and marketing strategies.
An engaging and entertaining speaker, Ira captures his audience’s attention with a common-sense approach, dry sense of humor, and compelling command of workforce and demographic trends. He speaks regularly to Vistage/Canada TEC CEO groups, association conferences and leadership events.
To schedule Ira: 717-291-4640 or 717-333-8286 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org /
Global Energy Career Expo Aberdeen 2013 | Aberdeen, United KindgomWednesday, 12 June 2013 10:00
Add Your Event for Free | OnlineThursday, 13 December 2012 00:00
Gateway Analytics Network : Business Planning & Analysis 2013 | InterContinental Buckhead Atlanta, 3315 Peachtree Road NE, Atlanta, GA 30326Thursday, 23 May 2013 08:00
Hiring Our Heroes Employment Fairs - Ongoing - | NationwideTuesday, 19 February 2013 00:00
Did you know...
The 77 million people that make up the US small business workforce would rank as the 17th most populous country in the world, just ahead of Iran;
Recruiting / HR Jobs
We have 581 guests and no members online
* The Lounge Podcast *
Read More Articles
- Corporate Accountability: White Collar Crime Penalty Enhancements
- The True Start of the Employee Experience
- Be the HR Survey!
- Employment Branding – Build An Image That Brings Candidates To You
- 6 Tips to Prevent Employment fraud and theft in Your Workplace
- HR is already a Hot Mess. And then the Police Arrive.
- Ethics and Good Recruiting