The Loss of Manpower Due to Employee Absenteeism

Are you really ill, or just throwing a sickie? Your day off costs the SA economy so much more than eight hours of lost labour.

Absenteeism costs the SA economy between R12 – 16 billion every year, and on any given day OCSA suggests that two of the three absent employees aren’t really ill.

Constant absenteeism has a knock-on effect on general productivity, profit margins and staff morale. And with smaller businesses, the effect may be greater because of the reliance on smaller numbers of employees. In some cases, one day’s absence can cost a company the equivalent of three days’ salary for the absent employee.

But why do workers stay at home when they are not sick?

An underlying factor for absenteeism may be stress, either in the workplace or at home, according to the CEO of Humanity Search and Select, specialist executive search firm.

If the workplace itself is stressful, people can be tempted to take a day off to avoid the stressed environment. She also emphasises that stress is an underlying cause of many physical and mental illnesses. Minor sources of stress can come from a computer that doesn’t work, internet issues or a telephone that rings all the time. Major sources of stress can come from office politics, having too much work, doing work that is unfulfilling, fear of losing your job or not getting along with your boss, according to Dr Judy Jaye, manager of the Stress Clinic. Add to those personal problems that affect someone’s productivity, such as chronic illness, relationship problems or an addiction, and the scene is set for a less than satisfying or productive workplace.

In the last decade or so, many companies have realised that work wellness programmes are an effective long-term human asset management strategy. Wellness programmes often consist of health education, medical screenings, fitness programmes, and access to information and support when it comes to something like the management of chronic diseases.

With predictable regularity, colds and flu strike at particular times of the year. So, knowing when the flu season is likely to start, employers can be proactive as prevention is clearly the way to go in ensuring the health of employees. The savvy employer can provide staff with information on how to support their immune systems to prevent colds and flu through healthy diet and lifestyle choices, and by using products which provide immune system support. Because, after all, being well is good for the employee and for the boss!