Finding a Solution for Absenteeism in the Workplace

Absenteeism in the workplace is unavoidable and continues to be a challenge for companies and HR professionals across the U.S. A myriad of work-related and personal issues – and sometimes a combination of the two – contribute to absenteeism, and some of the most common causes include child care breakdowns and illness (unanticipated or chronic).

The good news is you can identify a solution for absenteeism in the workplace (or a few!) – and by combatting the decline in attendance at your company, you will help address a costly issue for your business. 

The Cost of Employee Absences

A study by the U.S. Department of Labor estimates that nearly 3% of an employer's workforce was absent on any given day in 2018. While employees may think the occasional unplanned absence does not have major repercussions, many HR professionals have seen a gross decrease in productivity and now track absenteeism rates to measure the direct impact this issue has on their companies.

Consistent absenteeism also has a significant financial impact on the U.S. workforce as a whole. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), productivity loss linked to absenteeism in the U.S. costs employers $225.8 billion each year, or $1,685 per employee.

Solutions to Improve Employee Attendance

The first step in improving absenteeism is to determine the seriousness of the problem at your organization. You can calculate absenteeism rates using a variety of methods and tools, such as absenteeism spreadsheets, weekly time reports and absence-management systems. This information can provide insights into individual employee behavior as well as company-wide absenteeism rates.
Once collected, this data can be compared against national and industry averages and help inform policies and programs that can successfully manage absenteeism within your organization. Here are a few proven methods for how to improve attendance at your company:

• Establish and communicate your company’s attendance policy: Enacting a clear attendance policy is essential to set expectations for employees. It helps ensure employees understand what constitutes absences and excessive tardiness, and how often it is acceptable to have an unplanned absence. Equally important is how the policy is communicated. Inform employees of any changes or updates and explain how employees should report absences. Many companies educate new employees on these policies and procedures during orientation to set clear expectations from the very beginning and revisit the policy annually as a reminder.


• Offer incentives: Incentive plans are a great way to encourage and reward good attendance. A common incentive is a monetary bonus for employees with no unplanned absences in a 12-month period. Incentives encourage employees to follow attendance and sick policies and communicate anticipated absences so proper planning can occur. Providing adequate paid time off or a flex-time program are other options that allow employees – and companies – to plan for days off ahead of time.


• Provide family-friendly benefits: Employees often miss work due to external forces beyond their control, such as a child care breakdown. A recent poll of working parents by Workplace Options revealed 37% of participants had missed work in the last three months due to a child care issue, and 30% reported taking unpaid time off when child care issues caused them to miss work. Additionally, employee absences caused by child care breakdowns alone cause U.S. businesses to lose approximately $4.4 billion annually according to a 2018 report by Child Care Aware. Providing near- or on-site child care can not only decrease employee tardiness and absenteeism, but also relieve stress and increase morale among working parents.

In summary, absenteeism remains a top-of-mind issue for HR professionals and business leaders alike, who must identify ways to address this challenge. Offering child care services at or near your workplace can be a solution for absenteeism in the workplace – with the potential to decrease employee absences by 20-30%. Through Primrose on Premise®, the employer-sponsored business extension of Primrose Schools, we provide a premier early education and care experience that can help reduce absenteeism among working parents at your organization. To learn more about how we can create a customized approach for your company, your employees and their children, please contact our team.

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