The Silent Absence: How It Slowly Destroys Your Company

January 7, 20201:53 pm964 views
The Silent Absence: How It Slowly Destroys Your Company
The Silent Absence: How It Slowly Destroys Your Company


What is absenteeism?

Absenteeism is a practice of regularly staying away from work without any legitimate reasons and/or unplanned legitimate reasons such as personal leave, sick leave, jury duty, or family emergency. The term is not only about missing a day at work, as absenteeism also consists of times when employees arrive late, leave early, or take a longer lunch break. 

The “Absence is Coming” research found that the finale Game of Thrones (GOT) series has absorbed everyone’s attention, including most employees in the U.S. Approximately 27.2 million employees planning to watch GOT live admitted they would either miss work entirely, arrive late, work remotely, be less productive than usual, or experience another impact on work obligations.

See also: Managerial Help for Depressed Employees Linked to Lower Absenteeism Rate: Study

Meanwhile, research published at Metro News revealed that many UK employees (3.1 million) who are GOT fans preferred to telling a lie to their bosses in order to be able to stay up until the wee hours to watch the show in real-time – all to avoid spoilers from American who watched the show earlier. This excuse results in great absenteeism in most UK corporations. 

How much does it cost? 

The real cost of absenteeism is obvious: lost productivity and performance which eventually result in decreased revenue and profit. CIPD revealed that public sector and larger organisations are most likely to suffer from higher absenteeism which cost approximately £554 per employee annually. 

Another survey from Gallup found that the total cost related to lost productivity is over US$84 billion annually. However, Gallup estimated that the annual cost associated with absenteeism vary by industry, with the greatest loss occurring in professional occupations, including nurses, physicians, and teachers. Meanwhile, unscheduled absenteeism costs roughly US$3,600 per year per each hourly worker and US$2,650 each year for salaried employees.

Not only about financial matters, absenteeism is also dangerous as it can result in a great impact on the quality of service, productivity, efficiency, safety issues, and morale. Therefore, if left undressed, absenteeism can be a silent killer for an organisation’s success. So, how to reduce absenteeism and increase productivity, again?

Reducing the cause, soaring productivity 

According to CIPD, the main causes of absence include stress followed by minor illness, acute medical conditions, and mental ill-health. Other causes resulting in higher absence are harassment, bullying, depression, burnout, child care, family obligations, and lack of engagement. That said, HR management should undress these problems in order to reduce silent absence. How to reduce the core problems? Here’s what you can do. 

1- Pay attention and re-evaluate your company policy 

The code and conduct in the workplace should be your first concern when trying to eliminate absenteeism all at once. Thus, HR managers should relearn and – if needed – rewrite the policy without giving pressure to employees. Pay attention to small details as follows: 

  • The time the employees should arrive and leave 
  • Physical health activities and practices 
  • Psychological health practices 
  • Flexibility practices such as work-home balance, when to allow and to reject employees’ excuses 
  • The financial well-being for employees, including salary, perks, and benefits
  • Environmental health such as a clean workplace, clean food, clean cafeteria 
2- Reduce stress 

Stress is not the only reason for being unproductive. Stress, indeed, is the silent killer for employees as it is the root of all illnesses and diseases, including cardiovascular disease, anxiety, depression, and personality disorder. So, how to cope with employee’s stress? 

  • Make sure employees stay away from burn-out or having “too much” on their plate
  • Invest in work-related holiday with your teams such as outing, volunteering, or work-charity 
  • Reward employees for their hard work with time-off 
  • Remind or take your employees to connect with nature weekly or monthly 
  • Create a happy work environment, for example by displaying sentimental items around the office or starting a one-line-a-day gratitude journal. 
3- Listen and give feedback 

Lastly, as a good HR practitioner, attentive listening and being open to feedback are two biggest weapons to help employees be a diligent individual. Ask them about their problem and help them get out of the problem. It will be better if your company has its own professional employee advisers, thus, employees can freely speak up their grudges.

Read also: Absenteeism Management: The Missing Links for HRs to Fix