dealing with absenteeism

Reasons for absenteeism may vary from workloads to personal circumstances, and employers are starting to move towards a more flexible model to include mental health (or personal) days which do not require employees to produce a doctor’s certificate.

According to Direct Health Solutions, the average cost of absenteeism is over $350 per day. With employees in the private sector taking an average 9.5 days, compared to 11.4 days in the public sector, the employee absence rate has increased to an average of 9.7 days per employee per year.

The latest estimate from management consulting firm HR Advance is that employee absenteeism costs Australian businesses more than $44 billion a year. Therefore employers must implement effective strategies to manage this issue in order to protect their bottom line and promote a healthy workplace environment.

There are a number of good practices used to manage absenteeism, these include:

  • having return to work interviews with employees
  • managing employees who hit trigger points or high levels of absence
  • outsourcing and centralising absence recording and employee support to a specialist absence management provider
  • providing training to managers on how to manage employee absence

The idea of taking a personal leave or sick day to relieve stress and over-work (the so called ‘mental health’ or ‘doona’ day) is so widespread some employers are moving to a personal day model. Employees can take time off for any reason, without having to prove illness by producing a medical certificate for that day – an additional stress factor for the employee, and additional administrative pressure on the health services. 

Research shows the greatest source of stress for employees is not actually their workload, but non-work related factors such as family responsibilities. Employers may wish to adopt a flexible work policy for those employees, depending on the company culture and demands of the job. 

approaches to absence management

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