Australian businesses lost $30 billion due to record absenteeism levels in 2010. Absenteeism rose by 5% in 2010 to reach a peak average of 9.87 days per employee per annum, with the banking, finance, telco and public service industries the hardest hit, a DHS 2010 survey reveals. It is estimated that the cost of sickies is 22 times more than the cost of strike action. And employers believe at least half of all sick leave days are not taken for genuine reasons.
With averages up from 9.3 days per year 12 months ago, 36% of organisations quoted increased levels of absenteeism. The UK's average is seven days and the US's is six. Highest absenteeism is among call centre workers, union members, Gen Y members and employees with children or other dependants. IT industry workers have the lowest levels. The consequences of casual and genuine sickies include $30 billion in lost productivity for the economy a year. There are impacts on the staff who "fill the gaps" in terms of overwork and burn out and more absenteeism.
As a result, it has been suggested that businesses are not doing enough to manage their sick leave.
Key reasons suggested for the rise in sick leave taken include:
However, absences from the office are often about a lot more than illness. All of the following issues can lead to increased absenteeism from employees who find their work environment stressful:
Organisations are still battling to tackle unplanned absence effectively. The solution to absenteeism begins with leadership and management. To reduce absenteeism, leaders need to:
Perceived unfairness in the workplace is under the control of individual managers. If there are good relationships and clear expectations and staff feel that managers care about them, then staff won't want the organisation to suffer.
Other strategies are available to reduce absenteeism and can have significant cost savings. The key is tighter controls on sick leave including:
All this becomes easier if you have the right sort of HR Manual in place.
Contact Kim Murrells at Crossroads HR on (03) 9862 5900 if you would like to talk further about managing absenteeism or other HR issues.
Geoff Musgrove is a partner in the Maddocks Commercial team.
Geoff's principal areas of practice are:
Geoff acts for a wide range of commercial, government, accounting, manufacturing, professional and rural industry clients.
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