Absenteeism refers to unauthorised absence of the worker from his job. According to Benefits Interface (Edited 2010: 1 of 4) absenteeism can be defined as ‘failure of employees to report for work when they are scheduled to work’. Employees who are away from work on recognized holidays, vacations, approved leaves of absence allowed for under the collective agreement provisions are not included. In South Africa, managers consider absenteeism their most serious discipline problem (Nadlangisa, 2003).
Absenteeism is not unique to any particular geographical area or industry. It is a major problem for every organisation, particularly since downsizing and other lean changes have left employers with a smaller workforce (Grobler, Warnich, et al, 2006: 123) According to a recent study conducted by AIC Insurance, companies and the country’s economy are losing more than R12 billion annually due to absenteeism in South Africa. In 2000, 0. 7 million workers were absent from work, which is a fraction compared to the 397% leap it took up until 2012 (Goldberg, 2012).
Employees are often considered to be a company’s most valuable asset and according to Hamilton-Atwell (2003: 56-61) one of the best ways to increase profitably is by increasing the returns on this asset. Reducing absenteeism is one of the most overlooked methods of reducing costs According to Goldberg (2012) managing absence is critical for all organisations, as the negative impact that they feel with regards to efficiency, operations and cost- effectiveness is enormous. Whatever the causes, absenteeism is costing the country and its businesses heavily and therefore needs to be addressed.
Many employers, however, choose to disregard the possibility that there may be issues in the workplace causing poor performance and absenteeism. It makes sound economic sense to address any such issues and pro-actively encourage improved employee performance. This research framework focuses on a medium-sized local organisation, which has asked to not be mentioned. Therefore it shall be referred to as Organisation X. 3 2. Problem identification The failure to show up for work creates problems of varying degrees for managers and administrators.
Excessive employee absenteeism can decrease productivity and profits significantly, creating numerous problems for supervisors and the employees who work regularly (Carrell & Kuzmits, 1992: 735). 2. 1. Problem Statement The motivation for this research will be discussed by highlighting problems related to employee absenteeism as experienced within Organisation X Main Problem Unauthorized employee absenteeism from Organisation X and the actions that might be implemented to reduce this due to the fact that absenteeism causes a liability to the company. Sub-Problems
The unauthorised employee absenteeism is leading to an overall decrease in: i. Cost- effectiveness – Profitability ii. Operations – Production iii. Efficiency – Competitiveness 2. 2. Explanation of problems: Financial Costs Overtime and agency costs for replacing workers are incurred. Administrative Costs Staff time required to secure replacement employees and to re-assign the remaining employees. Staff time is required to maintain and control absenteeism. 4 Decrease in Productivity The employees that come to work daily carry an extra workload and support new or replacement staff.
Also they are required to train and orient new or replacement workers, which cause them to neglect and disregard their own work. The work group itself has a considerable stake in absenteeism, particularly with respect to morale. People in work groups are very sensitive to equity. If one member takes excessive and perceived inappropriate absences without some equitable cost to that individual, other group members are often affected. They take revenge by going absent themselves, o lowering the productivity of the group as a whole (Furham, 2000: 377).
Possible reasons for the absenteeism rate in Organisation X Lack of commitment Employees are simply not interested in their work or concerned about the success of the organization. This can stem from low wages or low employee morale, which might be caused by poor treatment by management or an unpleasant working environment. Also the length of service within the company will determine the commitment to the work and the workplace. Lack of consequence The lack of consequences, e. g. no incentives for strong attendance or no punishment for poor attendance leads to increased absenteeism of the employees.
Also employee packages that allow for a lot of absence can lead to workers abusing this. Poor working conditions Employees might feel that they receive poor treatment from managers, work in an unpleasant or stressful working environment, have long working hours a lack of breaks, are given an excessive workload or there is too much strict supervision. Personal factors Although there is a fair bit of absenteeism that could have been avoided, employees are often away from work for ‘valid’ reasons. Examples may include domestic 5
problems (bad housing conditions, family issues) and consequent worries, social and religious causes, problems with transport facilities or accidents/ illnesses (Hamilton-Atwell, 2003: 82-95) 2. 3. Research questions I. What are the main factors causing employees to be absent from work? II. Is one specific group of people more absent than another (e. g. male/female, old/young)? III. What are the current disciplinary actions within Organisation X’s Human Resource Department? IV. What is the behaviour of the employees towards these disciplinary actions? V.
What are the possible and most suitable solutions for Organisation X? 2. 4. Possible solutions for the absenteeism problem include, but are not limited to the following: Consequences To avoid absenteeism as much as possible the company should implement positive/ negative consequences for strong/ weak attendance. Examples may include offering rewards and incentives, e. g. monetary bonuses, simple raise or recognition (Employee of the month) for strong attendance and punish employees with poor records and unexcused absence (Gitman & McDaniel, 2008: 248).
Work-Life Balance According to Chick (2004: 67) managers should allow employees to be able to have or create a work-life balance, as this can reduce the stress levels they are exposed to. Dual income households have increased over the last decades and longer working hours are expected. Managers need to help their employees to manage the numerous and sometimes competing demands in their lives. Employees need to achieve a balance between their work responsibilities and their personal life (Gitman & McDaniel, 2008: 251).
Follow-ups The Supervisors need to sit down with the employees when they return from an absence to discuss the reason for absence, if the absence could have been 6 prevented and the implications of absenteeism on the company (if it is a common occurrence for this employee). 3. Hypotheses I. Females are more absent from work then men II. Individuals in any relationship are more absent than singles III. Employees with children are more absent than those without children IV. Employees below 40 are absent from work more frequently V. Current disciplinary actions are not perceived as a reason for employees to reduce the absenteeism VI.
Implementing other stricter disciplinary actions will reduce the rate of employee absenteeism 4. Objectives The Objectives of the project are: To understand and analyze: I. The main causes of absenteeism in Organisation X. II. The current disciplinary actions taken by the HR department for reducing absenteeism. III. The attitude of employees towards these disciplinary actions. IV. The factors to be considered in order to reduce absenteeism. V. Suggestions that can be given to the management to improve the regular attendance of the employees in the company.
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