Absenteeism at work: definitions and solutions

What is absenteeism at work?

The Covid-19 epidemic has highlighted the problem of absenteeism from work. The absence of one or more employees can have a major impact on a company’s organization and performance. How do you manage absences in the workplace? These absences can have many causes. Companies are taking various steps to combat absenteeism from work. A closer look at an increasingly common phenomenon in organizations.

Definition and explanation of absenteeism at work

Absenteeism refers to an employee’s repeated absence from work. The definition of absenteeism thus includes the following absences:

  • sick leave ;
  • accidents at work ;
  • unjustified absences ;
  • leave for a sick child, marriage or death of a close relative.

Ayming and AGR2 La Mondiale have published a barometer of absenteeism and commitment to work. The figures speak for themselves, and show a clear growth in this phenomenon. As a result, absenteeism rose by 24% in 2020 compared with 2019. The analysis reveals an average of 25.1 days absence per year per employee in France. The average absenteeism rate was 6.87%. This sharp rise can be explained in part by the Covid-19 epidemic, which accelerated an already existing trend.

What are the causes of absenteeism at work?

Whether of personal or professional origin, an employee’s absence can be caused by a variety of factors:

Personal reasons include :

  • family situation: caring for sick children, for example;
  • personal state of health (not work-related): ordinary illnesses, long-term illnesses;
  • seasonal epidemics ;
  • lack of desire to work (lifestyle).

There are also causes of absenteeism directly linked to work:

  • work overload ;
  • occupational illnesses: burn-out, musculoskeletal disorders… ;
  • accidents at work ;
  • poor working conditions (stress, atmosphere, etc.) ;
  • lack of motivation.

Quality of working life (QWL) therefore has a major impact on absenteeism.

The consequences of absenteeism for the company

This repeated absence from work has a direct impact on the company’s internal organization. The consequences of absenteeism can be severe. The operation of the absent employee’s department may be disrupted. The result is poor productivity and possible delays to orders. The absent employee’s workload must be shared among his or her colleagues. This can lead to tension between the employees present. Beware of the drop in motivation that may result within the department.

Can’t reorganize the absent person’s tasks? You then need to replace him or her, by recruiting a temporary or fixed-term employee. The cost of replacement is significant, and must be taken into account in the problem of absenteeism.

What can be done to combat absenteeism?

Absenteeism in the workplace is not inevitable. HR managers have a number of levers at their disposal to reduce employee absenteeism.

They can work closely with the occupational medicine department to find solutions for reducing work-related accidents and illnesses. Prevention therefore plays a fundamental role. It is also possible to request a second medical examination in certain specific cases.

Quality of life at work (QWL) and improved working conditions also help create the right conditions to combat absenteeism. Motivating employees will reduce absenteeism. For example, you could offer an attendance bonus.

Last but not least, talent management improves employee commitment and drastically reduces absenteeism. quarksUp offers HR managers an online tool to help them manage their employees’ careers. You can easily plan HR interviews. Managers can define objectives to be achieved. It is also possible to evaluate skills. With this tool, you can work on career development and boost employee motivation. More motivated, your employees are less absent.

Did you know that? An online questionnaire generator

quarskUp provides you with an online questionnaire generator. In this way, you can test your employees’ motivation and understand how they feel about quality of life at work.

How do you calculate the absenteeism rate?

You are now aware of the importance of monitoring absenteeism within your organization. To do this, you need to track a concrete, reliable absenteeism indicator. How do you calculate the absenteeism rate at work?

The absenteeism rate is a ratio expressed as a percentage:

Absenteeism rate = (number of days absent during a period / number of days theoretically worked during this period) x 100.

In this formula, the number of days of absence may concern :

  • the disease ;
  • accidents at work ;
  • unjustified absences ;
  • sick children, marriage, death.

The Covid-19 epidemic has confirmed a steady rise in absenteeism from work. HR managers can combat this trend by using a variety of levers. Motivating employees, offering them genuine career management, improving the quality of life at work… These are just some of the avenues to be explored.

3 key points to remember:

Absenteeism from work can have personal or professional causes;

absenteeism has a direct impact on a company’s productivity;

calculating the absenteeism rate allows you to better manage your workforce.

Good to know! quarksUp is an HRIS solution for managing the entire employee cycle.

Thanks to this HR tool, everything can be done online. As an HR manager, you’ll be in charge of all our employees’ digital activities. With its modular offer, quarksUp intervenes from recruitment to employee off-boarding.

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