SumTotal Blog

How Mismanagement of Employee Absences Is Costing Companies Money


On any given day Bureau of Labor research shows that 3% of the workforce is absent, costing the US economy $84 billion a year in lost productivity, breaking down to an estimated $1,685 per employee.

And it’s a cost expected to grow in tandem with the changing demographics of the workforce. By 2020 there will be five generations working together, meaning five different approaches to absences.


In the workplace, this diversity of attitude can translate into the following scenario:

“East is late again,” Phyllis muttered under her breath. “What kind of name is East anyway?” The 19-year-old often strolled into work around the time when he was supposed to clock in. “Chill” is what the other younger workers call it. Pure laziness is what Phyllis thought! If she had been “chill” in her younger days, she would have been out on her ear in the blink of an eye.

“Phyllis is SUCH a downer,” East texted to his colleague. “She’s always glaring, and I think she must have some vendetta against me on a personal level. LOL! I’m just going to stay away from her!”

This difference of viewpoints adds to the impact of absences and can result in conflict in the workplace.


What can you do?

While employees are entitled to take time off, there are measures all organizations should be taking to help manage absences and ensure employees are adhering to company policy.

This solution is called a formal Absence Management system and it will:

  • Track paid and unpaid absences
  • Ensure labor law, workplace standard, and safety regulation compliance – crucial given there are on average 200 labor laws change each year
  • Provide real-time accrual visibility and validation
  • Provide a formal supervisor approval process
  • Communicate company policy regarding time-off and what documentation is required when employees are absent.
  • Ensure employees receive the accruals and absences that they are entitled to receive

We’d also add it is essential that any such system is easy-to-use and offer self-service capabilities to ensure you reap maximum benefit by bringing the system directly to employees wherever, whenever and however they access it.

But its function isn’t simply to regulate or maintain records; it also gives you the data to identify problem areas, which in turn allows you to get proactive about managing your absence programs and policies including:

  • Identify trends
  • Evaluate working conditions
  • Review corrective wellness programs
  • Enforce disciplinary actions
  • Make better staffing decisions
  • Educate and empower managers
  • Monitor and adjust your employee absence strategy and policies

With multiple generations working together, Absence Management systems and practices perform a necessary function of ensuring objectivity and equity in how absences are handled. In turn, this creates a better work environment, one where regardless of an employee’s position or age, they know and understand what will happen when they choose not to go to work.

Learn more about the costs of employee absences in a multigenerational workforce. Listen to this webinar and download an Infographic.







Leave a reply: