Worker Absenteeism is a Costly Struggle for Companies

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1999 CCH Unscheduled Absence Survey


? Workplace Stress Kept Employees Home More
? Organizations Lose Millions of Dollars Annually
? Absenteeism by Health Care Workers, Those in Mid-Size
Companies Soared

(RIVERWOODS, ILL., September 21, 1999) – Unscheduled worker absenteeism remains a dilemma for U.S. employers, but some organizations appeared to have made inroads against the costly problem, according to the 1999 CCH Unscheduled Absence Survey by CCH INCORPORATED (CCH), a leading provider of human resources and employment law information. Of particular concern, absenteeism caused by worker stress has tripled since 1995, according to the survey. Industry sector and company size, however, appeared to influence greatly whether employees were on the job or not.

The 1999 CCH Unscheduled Absence Survey, conducted annually by CCH, is the most definitive survey on absenteeism in the workplace and the only one that measures costs associated with unscheduled absences. The survey will be released September 22, 1999, in the newsletter CCH Human Resources Management Ideas & Trends.

“The small decline in the overall cost and rate of absenteeism, after last year's considerable increase, provides relief for some organizations,” said Nancy Kaylor, a human resources analyst for CCH's Health and Human Resources Group. “However, because many sectors when examined by size or industry actually show significant increases in absenteeism, it's apparent that combating unscheduled absenteeism is an ongoing struggle.”

Brief Look at Results
Following are the top-level findings of the 1999 CCH Unscheduled Absence Survey. To obtain additional information on the survey, please note the options at the end of this summary:

? After an explosive increase of 26 percent in 1998, employers saw some minor relief in 1999, with a small, 7-percent decline in unscheduled absenteeism overall.

? Increasingly, stress accounts for unscheduled absences, with 19 percent of all no-shows due to stress – a 316-percent leap since 1995.

? Dollars lost to absenteeism, though declining overall in 1999, now average as much as $602 per employee, per year. The price tag for large companies can be as high as $3.4 million annually.

? Three of the eight industries surveyed reported substantial increases, with the Health Care industry, experiencing a dramatic 121-percent jump in absenteeism rates, an all-time high for the sector. Also up were rates for Universities, with a 17-percent increase, and Government, with a 4-percent increase.

? Mid-size companies – those with 1,000 to 2,499 people – set a record high for unscheduled absences, registering a 51-percent increase.

? As to why employees aren't showing up for work, Personal Illness decreased to a record low 21 percent, down from 45 percent in 1995. Family Issues now ties with Personal Illness as the most-cited reason for last-minute absences at 21 percent.

? While survey respondents said Paid Time Off (PTO) was the most effective method of absence control, only 27 percent reported they have implemented a PTO program, up slightly from 1998.

? The single most used absence control program was Disciplinary Action, used by 77 percent of employers.

? Work-life programs rated as most effective for reducing employee no-shows were Child Care Referral, Leave for School Functions and Flexible Scheduling, respectively. While more than half (58 percent) said they offered Flexible Scheduling, only 16 percent offered Child Care Referral and 26 percent provided employees with Leave for School Functions.

? Small businesses, those with fewer than 100 employees, showed the greatest decline – 76 percent – across all industry sectors, while absenteeism in the largest organizations (10,000 or more employees) remained unchanged.

? Reporting record-low rates for their sectors were Finance/Banking and Manufacturing, down 44 percent and 41 percent, respectively.

? Companies reporting a decline in absenteeism most often attributed the decrease to a Strong Work Ethic.

? Despite a small decline in unscheduled absences this year, 48 percent of human resource managers said they expected absences to increase over the next two years.

About the Survey

The 1999 CCH Unscheduled Absence Survey, now in its ninth year, surveyed 305 human resources executives in U.S. companies and organizations of all sizes and across major industry segments (Finance/Banking, Health Care, Manufacturing, Retail/Wholesale, Service, Utilities, Universities and Government). Scheduled absences, such as vacation, legal holidays, jury duty, personal time and bereavement leave were not included.

To Obtain a Copy of the Survey
Copies of the CCH Human Resources Management Ideas & Trends newsletter, including case histories, are available by calling 800-435-8878, and asking for offer number 06280001. Price is $29.95, plus tax, and handling.

CCH INCORPORATED, Riverwoods, Ill., is a leading provider of tax and business law information and software. The company's Health and Human Resources Group is among the nation's most noted authoritative sources of employment law, including information on benefits, compensation, worker safety and human resources management.
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