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It is estimated that Australian employees take approximately 8.8 days of unplanned leave per year, which costs the Australian economy more than $570 million every year.

Absenteeism is a serious problem in many workplaces. From being genuinely ill to just not wanting to show up for work, there are a myriad of reasons why employees choose to pull a sickie.

From an employer’s point of view, chronic absenteeism is a symptom of an underlying issue within the organization. Disengaged employees for example, often feel little to no enthusiasm for work which can lead to them choosing to skip out on work more often.

An overly demanding boss can overwork his/her staff to the breaking point which leads to burn out and a myriad of health problems thus contributing to further absenteeism within the team.

If left unaddressed, constant absenteeism will lead to falling productivity levels and increased employee turnover. In this article, we’ll take a look at how employers and managers can tackle absenteeism in the workplace.

1. Implement flexible work arrangements

Occasionally missing a day or two of work is perfectly understandable. However, if an employee regularly misses work for any reason whatsoever, this places additional strain on their existing team members.

Over time, this leads to unhappiness and disharmony as team members become resentful of the fact that they are forced to cover for a troublesome colleague.

While there are a variety of reasons why an employee may choose to miss work, having to deal with chronic illness faced by themselves or that of a loved one is one of the main reasons behind employee absenteeism.

Instead of dismissing said employee and facing potential legal ramifications, implementing flexible work arrangements such as telecommuting is one such way of tackling the matter of absenteeism.

Giving employees the option to work from home, allows them to handle any healthcare issues without having to miss work. This had the dual benefit of reducing absenteeism whilst ensuring that work still gets done.

Flexible work arrangements can also be helpful in the case of overworked employees. Instead of spending long hours working and commuting, employees who work from home can be better rested and less stressed out.

2. Eliminate presenteeism

Presenteeism is the direct antithesis of absenteeism but is equally harmful on the long run. To the uninitiated, presenteeism is defined as a scenario where sick and unwell employees continue working despite being far from able.

Peer pressure is an extremely powerful motivator, and, in some organizations, employees are “discouraged” from falling sick. In fact, some take it as a point of pride to continue working through illness; all just to impress one’s superiors.

Consequently, this often means that illnesses are much more easily transferable within the office. A colleague suffering from the flu who continues working will only spread the sickness around which places the rest of the team at risk.

3. Manage workplace culture

Employees spend a majority of their time at the office, working and interacting with their colleagues. Because of this, it’s especially important that employees feel safe and happy at their place of work.

An employee working in a supportive and happy workplace is likely to be more motivated and enthusiastic than an employee working in a toxic work environment. The same way a horse that is depressed won’t succeed in the Kentucky Derby race. This is why workplace culture plays a major role in employee engagement.

In a toxic work environment, employees are more likely to be constantly stressed and unhappy which gives rise to increased absenteeism. After all, why would an unhappy employee want to do more than the bare minimum at a place he/she despises.

Managers and leaders have to take the lead in ensuring that their organizations are worthwhile places to work at by stamping out toxic behaviors such as backstabbing, verbal abuse and politicking.

If left unchecked, absenteeism can grow to become a major problem in any workplace. By taking the appropriate action, it can be checked right at the door.

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