Does Paid Sick Leave Equal Absenteeism
If you are like most business executives and managers, then you can like share a story of at least one employee who routinely does incredible work, when he or she actually makes it to work. Absenteeism was a problem for employers across America long before the term itself actually came into use. Exactly how bad has it been Bad enough to account for a cost of nearly $3,600 per hourly and $2,650 per salaried employee per year, according to research shared by the Workforce Institute.
Business and employee solutions providers often claim to have the answer in avoiding employee absenteeism. However, relying on such resources is made all the more difficult in that there are varying degrees of this problem, some of which you, as a manager or executive, have little to no control over.
What is Absenteeism
In its simplest form, absenteeism refers to a chronic non-presence at work. Notice that it isn’t simply defined as missing work. While excessive scheduled absences are certainly one manifestation of this issue, partial absences can often be much more common. These include:
-Arriving late or leaving early
-Continuously engaging in personal conversation and/or other non-work-related activities while on the clock
-Taking longer lunches or more breaks than is allowed.
Many will attribute absenteeism to simple employee dissatisfaction. The good news is that in these forms, it can be addressed and prevented relatively easily by enforcing company policy or working with employees on a one-on-one basis. However, the greater challenge in curbing employee absences lies in dealing with the complicated management of employee sick days.
The Problem of Dealing with Unscheduled Absences
Having someone call in with a sudden case of the flu on the first day of the hunting season or complaining of a severe migraine after coincidentally having returned from a weekend getaway is nothing new. A simple roll of the eyes is often the only byproduct of such a loss, as those who utilize such excuses may typically be counted on every other work day of the year. It becomes a problem, however, when a single employee begins to suffer more than his or her fair share of illness. Before going on, it is important to distinguish the validity of extended illness. Severe medical issues can easily rob an otherwise dedicated employee of the ability to work. Yet it’s when non-consecutive sick days begin to add up that you can’t help but wonder if absenteeism has taken hold.
The problem in dealing with a potential case of absenteeism, however, lies in the fact that most employees are allowed paid sick days as an element of their benefits. In most cases, the use of such sick days is perfectly legitimate. At the same, you can’t help but wonder how many of your team members may view them as simply paid days off. This raises the question of whether or not paid sick leave equals employee absenteeism.
Answering this question is difficult, in that is assigns an assumed level of mistrust in your employees. The problem of absenteeism is rarely a comprehensive one. Thus, you may be uncomfortable painting your workforce with such a broad brush. Plus, there’s the added concern of facing accusations of unfair treatment or discrimination if you do question the validity of one’s use of his or her sick days. Still, that doesn’t mean that you should simply over attendance patterns that seemingly indicate absenteeism is at play.
Avoiding the Potential for Absenteeism Altogether
Perhaps a better question may be is what can be done to avoid absenteeism. While you certainly can’t keep employees from claiming to be sick, you can institute measures that encourage the responsible use of paid time off. Here are just a few suggestions:
-Work with your employees to monitor their paid sick days: Abuse is less likely to happen if employees know that you are aware of how many sick leave they’ve taken.
-Be flexible with your scheduling: Often, employees feel compelled to take a sick day to accommodate other responsibilities they may have. Be open in your communication with them to see if there may be a way to adjust their work schedule to allow all of their ongoing obligations to be met.
-Offer incentives for good attendance: Consider allowing employees to cash out their unused paid sick days around the holidays, or offer extra hours for those with perfect attendance.
Avoiding absenteeism in the workplace in made much easier if your team members don’t already demonstrate a proclivity for it. Believe it or not, such trends can be identified before a new employee has even been hired on. The tools offered by Mighty Recruiter can go a long way in identifying which employees will beat you to the office each day, and which ones will constantly be texting you with reason as to why they can’t come in. Let these tools help you in making the right hiring decision.