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In 2016, Canadian employers lost almost 10 days for every employee due to absenteeism. By 2020, this figure increased to almost 12.

Two additional days in four years may seem insignificant, however, employee absenteeism costs Canadian businesses almost $17 billion every year.

So how can you lessen employee absenteeism in your company? The key is first knowing why it is occurring. You can then implement the right strategies to deal with these issues head-on.

What Is Employee Absenteeism?

Employee absenteeism occurs when an employee continuously fails to show up to work. This is also referred to as habitual non-presence.

It is only considered absenteeism when the employee's non-attendance goes beyond an acceptable number of days and is not for a legitimate cause. Legitimate causes usually include sick days or illness, scheduled vacations, or family emergencies.


How Do I Calculate Absenteeism?

To calculate your employee’s absenteeism rate, you must divide the number of unexcused absences over a specific period, by the total period. Then multiply this figure by 100. Based on the period you choose, you'll know the absenteeism percentage for a year, a month, a quarter, etc.

Common Reasons for Absenteeism

A 2015 report showed that 52% of employee absences were non-illness-related, while 48% were due to illness.

Non-illness related absenteeism includes:

  • Personal issues

  • Family issues

  • Other practical issues

  • Stress

Illnesses that cause absenteeism can be both physical and/or psychological. These include:

  • Colds and the flu

  • Headaches and migraines

  • Stomach issues

  • Long term medical issues

  • Burnout

  • Depression

  • Anxiety

  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)

In some cases, the workplace can trigger some of these mental health issues. This is can even be the result of harassment and bullying, or not feeling safe enough to speak out.


Dealing with Employee Absenteeism

Before you can deal with employee absenteeism, you'll need to find out why it is occurring. It may be due to many of the reasons mentioned above but each organization and team is different.

Begin by distributing an employee questionnaire or survey. Give your employees a deadline for completion. They may be more inclined to be honest if the questionnaire is anonymous. You can then compile and study the data by looking for trends. This information will help you determine the percentage rate and cause of absenteeism in your organization.


How to Reduce Absenteeism

Once you determine the root cause you can then work on implementing a strategy. It should aim at keeping employees motivated and improving the culture of your organization.

Put an Attendance Policy in Place

Set the right expectations by creating a well-defined attendance policy. This ensures employees know what is considered excessive absences. It will also outline how they should report an absence. If there is a breach of the policy, you should have a plan in place on how to counsel an employee on absenteeism. On the flip side, don't only dwell on the negative. Show your employees you appreciate their effort. Reward them for stellar attendance records.

Up Your Level of Engagement

Increasing the level of engagement in your organization can motivate employees. Communicate with them on what's happening and show them your appreciation when they achieve their goals or complete a project. Also, give them clear channels for regular feedback and input.

Be Proactive

Try preventing the causes of absenteeism. Wellness initiatives can put employees on the healthy track. This can help them avoid illnesses. Have resources available that they can access to deal with stressful situations as soon as they occur.


Paving the Way for A Healthier Workplace

Foster a culture of inclusion and create a workplace where work is enjoyable. This can help keep employees motivated and decrease levels of employee absenteeism.

Despite this, it's also important to know how to deal with absenteeism, employee dissatisfaction, and what might be a toxic work environment. Investing in your employees' professional and personal development also goes a long way. Coursetter can help! We offer a wide range of courses and customizable training programs, including:

We can help your employees feel more empowered. Contact us today!


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