Counting the Cost of Absent Employees

  • The US experiences relatively high absenteeism rates, with private industry workers missing more than two days per year, on average.
  • Encouraging good employee dental health and wellness, offering flexible schedules, and creating a positive work culture can reduce absenteeism.
  • Missed opportunities from employee absences can lead to lost sales and decreased customer satisfaction.
  • Rewarding good attendance can motivate employees to show up and be productive.

As a business owner, absent employees can strain your operations, but do you know the true cost of having team members call in sick? If you have staff members who are frequently absent or taking long-term leave, it could affect your business in more ways than you realize. By understanding the true cost of lost productivity, missed opportunities, and increased expenses, you can better prepare for and manage these situations when they arise.

Absenteeism in the U.S.

The U.S. is one of the most productive countries in the world, but it also has relatively high absenteeism rates. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the U.S. has a 2% absenteeism rate per company. Additionally, some types of jobs have exceptionally high rates of absenteeism. For example, a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that the absenteeism rate for workers in food service was more than three times higher than in other industries. Here’s the cost of absenteeism in your business:

The Cost of Lost Productivity

Perhaps the most apparent and immediate cost of having absent employees is the impact on productivity. When someone is missing from your workforce, you may need to shuffle workloads, ask other staff members to pick up the slack, or delay projects that require an entire team to complete. Even if you can cover the workload, it will usually take longer when there are fewer people around to share the work.

Missed Opportunities

In addition to lost productivity, absent employees can also mean missed opportunities for sales, customer service, and growth. Unscheduled absences can leave you shorthanded during peak periods when you need all hands on deck. This can result in longer customer wait times, missed sales opportunities, and a less-than-optimal customer experience. Additionally, if you have a sales or business development team, they may miss out on potential sales leads or meetings when key team members are away.

Business Expenses

Increased Expenses

Lost productivity and missed opportunities aren’t the only cost of absent employees. There are also inherent expenses associated with an employee being absent, whether short or long-term. Absences can increase administrative overhead, such as maintaining records on sick days, vacation time, and other types of leave. If an employee requires long-term disability or medical leave, you may need to bring in temporary workers, conduct overtime, or pay for expensive agency staff to cover the workload.

Impact on Employee Morale

The costs of absent employees aren’t just financial. Your remaining team members may feel stressed, overworked, and unsupported when colleagues are frequently absent. This can lead to low morale, eventually leading to poor performance, increased absenteeism, and a high turnover rate. Furthermore, if the absent employee holds a key role or has specific skills that are hard to replace, it may also cause unnecessary pressure on other team members who may feel that they have to fill in gaps beyond their skillset.

Reducing Absenteeism in Your Business

Thankfully, there are various ways you can reduce absenteeism in your business. Here are some of them:

Improve Dental Health

Dental check in office

Poor dental health is one of the leading causes of absenteeism in the workplace. Encourage your staff to practice good oral hygiene and provide dental health benefits. Moreover, you can get professional help for your employees. Partnering with a local dentist can grant you various benefits. First, they can offer your employees professional advice and preventive care. Secondly, they might provide discounts or other support for treatments.

Create a Positive Work Culture

Creating a positive work culture means building an environment that encourages employees to show up daily and be their best selves. Employees who feel valued, appreciated, and respected are likelier to show up. A positive work culture includes offering career growth and development opportunities, recognizing employees’ hard work and achievements, and promoting a healthy work-life balance. Employees who feel happy coming to work are less likely to call in sick.

Offer Flexible Schedules

Sometimes employees need some flexibility in their schedules to manage their personal lives. Employees can balance their work and personal life by offering flexible schedules, reducing the need for unplanned absences. Employers can offer remote work, flexible hours, or job sharing to give employees more control over their work schedules.

Providing employees with this level of flexibility can demonstrate that the business values the work-life balance, and employees are more likely to show loyalty to an employer who supports their health and well-being.

Encourage Employee Health and Wellness

Encouraging employee health and wellness can mitigate the risk of sick leave and improve workplace productivity. Companies can offer healthy snacks and drinks, encourage physical activity, and organize wellness programs. Offering annual flu shots in the workplace or providing access to mental health support can promote employee health, leading to fewer absences.

Reward Attendance

Companies can also help to reduce absenteeism by rewarding employees with excellent attendance. Employers can offer incentives like bonuses, additional paid time off, or other benefits when employees have a minimum number of absences. This incentive can motivate employees to come to work and be more productive, knowing that the company values their effort.

Absenteeism is inevitable in running a business, but it doesn’t have to be costly or disruptive. By understanding the actual cost of absent employees and taking the necessary steps to reduce absenteeism, you can ensure your business runs smoothly and efficiently.

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