What Are the Common Causes of Employee Absenteeism?

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  • Written By: Lumara Lee
  • Edited By: Allegra J. Lingo
  • Last Modified Date: 06 December 2019
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Employee absenteeism can be a serious problem. Some employee absenteeism is to be expected because people get sick or have to take care of family emergencies. When the absentee rate rises above 3 percent, however, this lost productivity can adversely impact company profits. In addition to lost productivity, the company may incur the extra expenses of sick pay, overtime pay, and the cost of hiring replacements for absent employees. There are many factors besides illness and injury that can contribute to employee absenteeism, including authoritarian managers, stressful relationships with coworkers, problems finding day care, and harassment.

When employees call in sick, the reason isn’t often because they are truly ill. Most absences not due to illness are caused by stress. There are numerous factors that can cause stress in the workplace, but the number one reason is dissatisfaction with a supervisor’s management style.

Untrained managers may not know how to motivate employees and keep up morale. Some managers display authoritarian styles, micromanaging employees, bossing them around, and causing severe stress. If the reason for employee absenteeism is traced to management, providing some extra training in effective management styles may eliminate the problem so that attendance improves.


Another factor the company should examine when there is a high rate of employee absenteeism is the work environment. A noisy environment makes it difficult for employees to concentrate and can cause stress. Bland environments, such as windowless cubicles done in monotone shades of beige or grey, may cause boredom and decreased motivation. Poor air circulation and uncomfortable room temperatures are other factors that can lower morale and make it uncomfortable for employees to show up for work.

Sometimes, responsible employees who are satisfied with their jobs cannot make it to work because of child care issues. For example, a babysitter who is providing child care may occasionally get sick and not be available, leaving the parent no option but to stay home. A parent may run into problems getting to work if there is no reliable day care available in a location convenient to the workplace. Some companies have addressed these issues by providing on-site day care.

If there is a problem with chronic employee absenteeism that affects a number of workers, chances are that the issue is company-related and not due to problematic employees. Interviewing workers to find the reason behind the absenteeism will show them that the company cares, and this can improve morale. Once the factors causing the high rate of employee absenteeism are addressed, the rate of employee absenteeism should decrease.


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Post 3
Are married employees more likely to miss work than single employees in general? What can we do to curb employee absenteeism in the workplace in general?
Post 2

@ankara-- I don't agree with you, I think that employee attendance is more about discipline. Of course, several factors contribute to it, like low pay, problems between employees and employers and so forth.

My company has a lot of paid interns and they have more absenteeism more than anyone else. I don't know if it's because it's a temporary position, because they don't like their job or their supervisor, or because they feel that they don't get paid enough. But they take every possible opportunity to skip work and prefer to work at home if possible.

This is a problem because we rely on our interns a lot, especially for office errands and meetings.

Post 1

Weather is another cause of absenteeism. We had a terrible snow storm several years back in the DC area and many people were stranded at home. I missed three days of work at that time.

I don't think that most employee absence is intentional. Very few people can afford unnecessary absenteeism. For me, I have bills to pay so I don't want to miss a work day unless I absolutely have to.

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