The 5 Causes of Employee Absenteeism At The Workplace

Finding out the causes of absenteeism of employees and why they take unplanned leaves.

What is defined as “absenteeism”?  According to online dictionaries, it is “frequent or habitual absence from work”.  It occurs when an employee takes both planned and unplanned leaves.  But it is the latter that causes much problem for employers throughout the world.  Ask any employer and they will tell you that their definition of absenteeism is a decrease in productivity.  Look deeper and you will realize that this will mean that organizations will need to incur additional costs and time to find and train replacements to perform the absentee’s work. In fact, employee’s unplanned absenteeism is by far one of the most problematic faced by most organizations.

Let us have a look at the causes of absenteeism to understand the root of this problem.

Cause # 1: Employee’s Attitude

This is probably the main cause of misused absenteeism at the workplace.  An employee’s work attitude will provide hints on the level of commitment he or she has towards their work.  If employees have good work attitude, they will not take leaves unless necessary and they will plan their leaves well in advance so that proper delegation of duties can be arranged before that.  On the other hand, should the employee have poor work attitude, then chances are they will misuse leaves entitlements and may even have other issues like discipline and integrity.

Cause # 2: Length of Employment

Surveys have shown that the longer the employee is attached to the organization, the lesser unplanned leaves taken, though there are exceptional cases. This is most likely due to the fact that organizations would have gotten rid of employees who indulged in absenteeism much earlier in their career.

Also, level of position too plays an important factor with the more senior employees being less likely to log in many missing workdays.  In short, it is usually the junior employees and the new hires who tend to take unplanned leaves.

Cause # 3: Work Pressure

Naturally, it goes without saying that when the work pressure goes up, absenteeism rate too will go up.  Sometimes, employees in trying to avoid stressful situations eg difficult meetings, would coincidently report in “sick “ or having “family commitments” on that day.  It is obviously an excuse to take the day off in order not to face such pressures.

Cause # 4: Relationship with Superiors

What are the working relationships like in the office?  Are the heads of department putting too much pressure on their staff or are the managers demanding beyond what was expected from their subordinates?  In recent surveys, it was a surprise that a high number of employees cite “poor relationship with superiors” as the main reason why they choose to stay away from work.  Employees, especially junior positions would rather not report to work in a bid to avoid confrontation with their demanding bosses or as an act of defiance.

Cause # 5: Job Satisfaction

Other than to earn a salary, the other pulling factor why people seek employment is because of job satisfaction.  This is also the reason why people change jobs or work environment.  Some employees prefer doing the same thing over and over again and will not seek new responsibilities, while others find it boring to perform monotonous functions.  But in both cases, absenteeism will occur when their level of satisfaction is lower than what they would accept in their daily work.

It is therefore extremely important to have absenteeism tracked (tracking softwares available at and under controlled and in order to do this, employers must address the needs of their employees.  Employees are not to be treated as slaves and at the same time, leaves are not to be abused.   There should be mutual respect between both parties in order to have a workable solution.