What Is the Connection between Absenteeism and Turnover?

Malcolm Tatum

In both small and large business settings, it is not unusual for human resource personnel as well as managers to note that there appears to be some sort of connection between absenteeism and turnover of employees. In fact, there are a number of factors that link the rate of absenteeism experienced with a given employee and the chances that the employee will either voluntarily choose to resign or be terminated at some point in the future. Some of those connecting factors include the management style of the supervisor or manager that the employee reports to, the level of satisfaction that the employee finds in his or her work, interaction with coworkers, and personal issues that are currently present in the life of the employee that have an impact on the employee’s perspective about the job.

Happier employees are less likely to be absent from work or look for other employment.
Happier employees are less likely to be absent from work or look for other employment.

Conditions in the workplace, and the employee’s perspective of those conditions can have an influence on both absenteeism and turnover. When the workplace is equipped adequately with the resources necessary to managing assigned tasks, and the procedures for carrying out those tasks are logical and uniform, there is a good chance that employees will find the environment comfortable and productive. Employees who are happy with the conditions in the workplace are much more likely to be at work unless there is a compelling reason, and are also more likely to be productive while at work. By contrast, difficult work conditions will likely lead to increased absenteeism and higher turnover rates.

Workplace conditions can affect both absenteeism and turnover.
Workplace conditions can affect both absenteeism and turnover.

Along with the actual working conditions, the type of management or supervision experienced by employees will also have some impact on both absenteeism and turnover. Managers who tend to be approachable and supportive of the efforts of their employees will likely find that employees are less likely to be at work on time and happy to do what they need to in order to keep their jobs. When the manager makes it a point to balance disciplinary measures with recognizing good work on the part of the employees, this sense of balance will also often motivate employees to consider their jobs a priority, which in turn reduces both absenteeism and turnover.

In many work environments, the relationships between coworkers while in the workplace can also have a significant impact on both absenteeism and turnover. Attempting to work day after day with difficult coworkers can drain enthusiasm and make it much easier to stay out of work for just about any reason at all. Over time, the difficulties can become so extreme that employees choose to find employment elsewhere. Managers should be alert to situations of this type and seek the support of human resources to mediate differences before they negatively impact employee morale.

At times, absenteeism and turnover are not rooted in work settings or other people in those settings. Employees who are dealing with significant personal issues such as illness in the family, divorce, the death of a loved one, or even a significant amount of financial problems may be unable to set those problems aside while in the workplace. When this is the case, counseling provided by the employer may help the employee to regain some perspective and be able to function happily in the workplace once more. Without this level of support, the situation may deteriorate with more frequent days of work missed and ultimately the employee leaving the company.

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Discussion Comments


Very interesting thoughts. How can the e-commerce environments be compared to traditional business? Example: How can one manage relationships between coworkers while their workplace is mostly virtual? How can you measure absenteeism in that environment?

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