How to avoid and prevent absenteeism at work?

Absentismo laboral

According to a report developed by Randstad using data from the National Institute of Statistics (INE), in Spain more than 1 million people miss work every day. Work absenteeism is a problem that seriously affects companies around the world lossing nearly 7,000 million euros a year due to this phenomenon. 

Human Resources department oversees this data, as well as promotes strategies to prevent employees from miss their work. 

What can companies do to reduce employee absenteeism? We’ll tell you then below. 

What is considered absenteeism at workplace? 

When we talk about absenteeism, we refer to all those moments in which employees do not show up for their jobs to fulfill the functions for which they were hired. The cause of the absenteeism can be justified or not.  

This includes both face-to-face work and homeworking since, despite not being physically in the office, an employee must comply with their schedule and tasks. 

Systematic absences without a good reason seriously affect production and paralyze the development of companies. In addition, the pending tasks and commitments must be assumed by the other members of the team which also influences the creation of a hostile and uncooperative work environment. 

All these consequences make work absenteeism one of the priorities for Human Resources departments, which must address appropriate strategies to create an adequate environment that reduces or avoids continued absences. 

Types of Workplace Absenteeism 

There are four kinds of absenteeism. Understanding the differences between the different typologies is essential to know how to approach each case and find the right solutions. 

1. Justified absenteeism

These are those absences planned and notified in advance for which, for an apparent and objective reason, the person cannot be present at their job. Among the justified absences would be medical appointments, work or maternity leave, or the right to strike. 

2. Unexcused absenteeism

Contrary to the previous type, in this case employees miss their job without justification, without reason, and without prior notice. Repeated tardiness or leaving the position before stipulated hours would also fall into this category. 

3. Presenteeism 

Presenteeism occurs when employees, while present at their job, don’t carry out the activities of their function. For example, constantly looking the cellphone, talking with colleagues, or playing videogames. 

4. Emotional absenteeism

Lastly, emotional absenteeism represents a disconnection between the employee and the organization on a psychological level. 

It occurs when the employee shows a lack of interest in the needs of customers or the objectives of the company. These are employees who do not meet the expected performance, either due to lack of motivation, stress, or not being sufficiently aligned with the values and mission of the company. 

This last type of absenteeism is becoming increasingly important among companies, since employee disengagement causes critical effects on productivity. 

What are the causes of absenteeism at work? 

The causes of work absenteeism are diverse and depend, to a large extent, on two major factors: individual and company factors. 

On the part of the individual, these are the most common reasons for missing work: 

  • Diseases (professional or not). 
  • Accidents and unforeseen events. 
  • Dependent family situation. 
  • Moonlighting. 
  • Psychosocial disorders: depression, anxiety, phobias… 

On the other hand, on the part of the company, the most common causes, although not the only ones, are: 

  • Unmotivating tasks. 
  • Inadequate work environment. 
  • Poor occupational risk prevention. 
  • Work overload. 
  • Inflexible hours. 
  • No opportunities for growth. 
  • Ineffective people management. 

Only by knowing which aspects are the ones that cause the most problems, for both the company and the workers, will it be possible to start working on the design of solutions adapted to each circumstance and “attack” work absenteeism to reduce it to its minimum expression. 

How to know what causes absenteeism in your company? The quickest and most direct option to find out is by asking the employees themselves. Team Insights is an online tool that allows team managers to send pulse surveys to workers to measure the main dimensions that affect work absenteeism through reliable and proven metrics. 

Team Insights will make it very easy for you to identify the causes of your employees’ absenteeism and you will be able to take action to solve and prevent this problem that causes so many headaches for organizations around the world. 

Now that you know what factors cause absenteeism, how about we remedy it? 

How to reduce work absenteeism? Guidelines for a healthy work environment 

  1. Motivate the workforce. Intrinsic motivation is the main source of energy for employees. To apply it in your organization, empower them to take responsibility for their own decisions about their work, cultivate a culture of continuous learning, and make it clear to them what is their purpose 
  2. Adequate Rewards. Appropriate rewards go beyond an equal pay. While money is important, the rewards for a job well done also include recognition and positive feedback from managers. With that, employees will know that their contributions are important and will be more committed to their work, reducing unjustified absences.
  3. Invest in resources to prevent workplace accidents. Having a safe, efficient and clean workspace while making workers aware of occupational risks reduces the probability of suffering accidents that lead to sick leave and other expenses for your company.
  4. Implement flexible hours. Don’t make employees prioritize between work or family if they can combine the two with flexible hours. From entering and leaving without fixed schedule, to the possibility of working from home, employees will come to work more if they can balance work and personal life without adding stress.
  5. Manage the workload. Excessive responsibilities are a source of stress that can lead to diseases such as burnout, one of the main reasons for absence from work. If you don’t want your workers to burn out and start missing work, you need to know how to manage the flow of tasks. Use organization systems such as Kanban and has enough staff to provide support at the most critical moments.
  6. Listen to your employees. Your employees can be your best ally when it comes to managing the organization. Nobody better than them to know what is going on within the company and the problems that affect its performance and productivity. Again, Team Insights is the ideal tool if you want to know the opinion of the workforce and obtain quality feedback.
  7. Well-being, first priority. Organizations are made up of people and without them no business could get ahead. Therefore, ensuring their well-being should be a priority for any HR department. Organize personal development programs as well as Team Building events to improve relationships between colleagues are initiatives that promote psychosocial safety at work. 

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