The Adverse Impact of Absenteeism on Your Business

Absenteeism in the office

Chronic absenteeism makes remaining employees feel like only their co-workers’ shells are available.

Absenteeism has a significant adverse impact on your business. According to the Oxford Dictionary, absenteeism is defined as “the practice of regularly staying away from work or school without good reason.” The “without good reason” says it all!

Employee Morale

High absenteeism adversely impacts employee morale. Other employees begin to feel as if they are constantly taking up the slack for those employees who are chronically absent. And indeed they are. Employees are there to perform a job and have responsibilities associated with that job. If an employee is chronically absent, then one or more employees must take over those job responsibilities or else your business begins to seriously suffer.

Those employees who consistently perform another’s job begin to feel used and taken for granted or taken advantage of. Understandably, these employees can become resentful, angry, and sullen. When employees feel this way for extended periods of time, their customer service skills drop, their willingness to contribute plummets, and their interaction with other employees becomes more strained. Employee morale spirals down.

Personnel Management

When you allow absenteeism to continue and become chronic absenteeism, you encourage, and actually promote, a culture of slackers. Your employees observe what others get away with; they then try to see what they can “get away with” and continually push that envelop. Others like them are drawn to the company. (i.e., Who else wants to work in such an environment?)

Those who consistently do the jobs for the others who are absent will either eventually leave or become slackers themselves. In addition, chronic absenteeism can result in increased employee theft (as in “I’ll get mine this way”), increased accidents, and poor cash flow. A slacker mentality permeates your business and causes significant negative repercussions. The lax approach to personnel management (i.e., not swiftly and decisively addressing the absenteeism issue) can lead to a slow business death.

Absenteeism's definition as a quote.

Definition of Absenteeism.

Caveat: The owner or senior manager is the problem.

One caveat: Sometimes absenteeism is not the root cause but a symptom of a greater problem such as poor working conditions and poor overall health. Occasionally, the greater problem is you, the business owner, or one or more of your trusted managers. Your or their behavior causes the absenteeism.

If you have a grating personality and you holler and scream or otherwise deride employees, those employees will increasingly call in sick or just now show. In these cases, further chiding and deriding your employees for the absenteeism will only temporarily reduce the problem. As the owner, you must change your behavior in order to radically improve attendance. If you can’t change, hire a CEO or COO and stay away from the office when people are working!!

Alternatively, if your trusted manager is the problem, you must take definitive action to get your manager to change his interaction with employees… or you must let your manager go. Employee morale is not just a human resources issue. It is a business issue. Take decisive action to improve the treatment of your employees, and both employee morale and your business will improve significantly.