Cost of Absenteeism on the Rise According to Survey

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A recent Commerce Clearing House survey found that the cost of absenteeism in the workplace is on the rise, and that nearly two thirds of days claimed as sick days are being used for personal or family-related reasons.

CCH interviewed 333 human resources executives and discovered that companies are spending as much as $789 per employee per year to cover the cost of absenteeism. Employers use a variety of methods for combating abuse of sick pay programs. "The challenge for employers is finding the right balance of work-life and absence control programs to help their employees address issues that compete with showing up," said Lori Rosen, CCH analyst.

The four most effective methods of absence control, according to survey results, are the following:

  • Paid leave banks (PTOs) - employees are given a total number of days each year that are available for sick, vacation, and personal time. The employee may choose how to use the available time off.
  • Buy-back plans - employers pay employees for unused sick days.
  • Disciplinary programs - Considered the least effective of the four programs, many companies find disciplining employees who use sick time for personal reasons can lower morale. The reverse is true as well. Companies with good morale have fewer unscheduled absences. Disciplinary programs are the most common form of combating absenteeism.
  • Bonus program - Employees are rewarded for good attendance.

The survey does not address the potential downside of programs that discourage employees to use sick time, such as possibly providing encouragement for sick employees to return to work before they are healthy.

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