Concept of absenteeism

Concept of Absenteeism:

Absenteeism is when employees fail to report to work when they are scheduled. Absenteeism can be costly and huge disruption for the employer. It is hard for any organisation to achieve its objectives if the staff fails to report to work. It can result in quality of the output and in some cases it can bring a complete closure for production. The definition of absenteeism, its causes, its affects on productivity and its costs in term of finances and administrative effectiveness are quite clear, the challenge is in taking affirmative action to control it. People can be absent from work for a number of reason, some of them for a very good reason but whatever the reason, absence is costly and disruptive and needs to handled with skill, understanding and confidence.

What causes employees to skip work? Absenteeism is one of the most serious problem facing today workplace. Employers must be able to identify what is causing their employees to miss work in order for them to find a solution. The reason for the absences can be divided into two categories as under:-

  • Internal (within the individual)
  • Internal causes can include serious accidents and illnesses, transportation problem, stress, low morale, poor physical fitness, inadequate nutrition and personal problem.

  • External (within the company)
  • External causes range from poor working conditions, boredom on the job, lack of motivation, lack of job satisfaction, guaranteed salary and workload.

    As we can see causes of absenteeism fluctuate and whether they are legit or not they and very much carry on. Absenteeism impose losses on the employer who is also not at fault. The damage suffered by the employer must be weighted. What are some of costs of absenteeism? There are three categories in for which the costs can be identified as under:-

  • Productivity
  • Lost productivity of the absence employee, decreased overall productivity of those employee.

  • Financial
  • Any temporary help costs incurred, possible loss of business or dissatisfied of customers.

  • Administrative

There are various factors that influence an employee to remain absent from work. They are as follows:

Personal Factors:-

  1. Personal Attitude:
  2. The attitude one carries to work says a lot about the person. Employees with strong workplace ethics will respect work and appreciate the contribution they make to their companies. Such employee will not engage themselves in taking unschdualed off. On the other hand, employees with very low or no work ethics are undisciplined and have lot of integrity and behavioural issues. Since they feel no obligation towards the company, absenteeism comes easily to them.

  3. Age:
  4. The younger employees are often restless. They want to spend time with their friends and have fun, rather than being tied down with work responsibility. The lack of ownership often leads them to take unauthorized time off. With age, people gain experience and maturity, which makes them focuses and responsible. Their approach is rather professional and they prefer to stick to their chairs to get the work done. If ever they are found absent, then it could be due to sickness.

  5. Seniority:
  6. Employees, who have been with the company for a long time are well-adjusted with the working culture and the job, therefore, they find no reason to be absent without permission. On the other hand, new hires are more prone to taking ad hoc breaks to unwind themselves.

  7. Gender:

Women generally do a balancing act by stuffing their time between home and work. Family, being their foremost priority, they dont think twice before taking a step towards absenteeism.

Organisational Factors:

  1. Stress:
  2. The pressure at work sometimes takes a toll on the employees. This result in increased the level of stress. The employees then resort to excuses that can help them stay away from work.

  3. Work Routine:
  4. Doing the same job over a period of pressure at work sometimes takes a toll on the employees. This result in increased the level of stress. The employees then resort to excuses that can help them stay away from work.

  5. Job satisfaction:
  6. If employees do not find their challenging, dissatisfaction creeps in. That leads to more absenteeism in the organisation.

  7. Lack of Motivation:

Lack of motivation from the employers is a big cause of absenteeism. Employees are not giving much attention to their jobs because of less motivated jobs.

Why managers need to understand Organisational Behaviour and its theories?

Organisational behaviour is the study of the behaviour and attitudes of people in organisations. Its focus is on human work behaviour and attitudes which contribute to the effectiveness and productivity of the organisation. Newer definitions of management stress the importance of the manager as an enabler of employee performance instead of the activities approach.

A significant relationship exists between management and organisational behaviour. Organisational behaviour is an applied discipline which attempts to explain behaviour in organisations in term of valid theories. The field of organisation behaviour contributes knowledge in critical area important to any manager. Organisational behaviour is concerned with describing and explaining the organisational phenomena while management is a professional discipline which stresses the importance of applied problem-solving skills that sustain the firms competitive advantage.


Carrot and stick refers to a policy of a combination offering rewards and punishment to induce behaviour. The positive carrot team will never get punish and always will win the rewards for doing well in an environment of gentle encouragement and leadership. The stick team will get an extreme training and they cannot be rewarded and will be punished for the failure. A very widely know motivational concept is the carrot and stick approach. However when put into practice this approach is found to be more difficult than it seems to change behaviour, there are two ways to change behaviour using the carrot and stick approach.

The stick or the fear is a good motivator and if it is used at the right time can be very helpful. The stick or fear can be stressful for employees. Fears are only use full for short term basis. On the other hand employees are becoming more productive because of the incentive they are offered i.e. the carrot approach. The benefits of this approach are that it works very well if the incentive is good enough.


Motivated employees overcome obstacles to make it to work. The key to reducing employee absenteeism is to create a culture where employees wants come to work. Many employers do not pay attention absenteeism, both the measurement and affects of absenteeism and its control. Almost all employers understand that high absenteeism rates have negative effect on their business but the monetary effect of abnormally high absenteeism is usually not qualified. It is necessary for mangers to consider the importance of motivation because it stimulates employee behaviour to achieve organisational goals. Human behaviour rests on needs and motives. A need us an experienced state of deficiency that pushes ones behaviour Examples of needs are hunger, thirst and belongingness. The motives are achievement, power, greed, altruism pulls human behaviour towards a goal that is predicted or anticipated. For understanding of this a good example is if pay rise to pay for summer holidays can change the behaviour of the employees in the sense of increased work output, no absenteeism, no lateness and higher work quality. Motivation theories are two types content theories and process theories.


  1. Maslows Hierarchy of Needs:
  2. Abraham Maslow, according to professors Lawler and Suttle (1972), believed that motivation could be explained by organising human needs into five levels. He made his theory sufficiently broad to address human behaviour in all settings. The five levels of Maslows hierarchy are:-

    Physiological needs: air, shelter, food, sleep, drink etc.

    Safety needs: security or limits, law, stay ability etc.

    Belongingness and love needs: work group, affection, relationship, family.

    Esteem needs: includes achievement, self esteem, independent, status, prestige, managerial responsibility etc.

    Self actualization needs: includes self fulfilment, seeking, personal growth and experiences personal potential.

    The hierarchy makes it clear that unmet needs are more motivating then satisfied ones. The implication is that motivation and need satisfaction are anticipatory in nature. So if employers are much consider the needs of employees can be reduce absenteeism in the organisation. On my point of view this can be helpful to reduce the absenteeism and give the solution for the punctuality of the employees.

    Douglas McGregor theory:-

    Theory X:-

    Douglas McGregor explains this theory as follows on individual behaviour at work. Average human being has their this like of works and will avoided if they can, therefore most people must be forced with a threat of punishment to work towards the achievement of organizational objectives. And average human being prefers to be directed to avoid responsibility and wants security for their work. Theory x managers results driven and deadline driven

    • They dont tolerate anything
    • Issues threats ultimatum and deadline
    • They keep the distance
    • They are arrogant
    • They are short temper
    • Like to give instructions and directions
    • They always demand never ask
    • Doesnt participate
    • Doesnt build team
    • Unconcerned with staff welfare
    • Proud some time to a point of self disruption
    • Communicate one way
    • Dose not thank or praise
    • Take the criticism badly

    Theory Y:-

    Theory y participate in problem solving like absenteeism, situation which its necessary to explain the objectives that employees can grasp the purpose of the action. The situations in which employees can be consulted where individual are positively motivated towards their work and the work responsibility is sufficient and allows flexibility where employees can see their position in management hierarchy. If all these condition are present than manager can apply participative approach towards the objectives for problem solving which Leeds towards batter results compare to alternative approach mentioned in theory x. staff will contribute better in organization if they are treated as a valued employee.

  3. Herzbergs Two-Factor Theory:

A content theory of motivation which is closely related to Maslows hierarchy is Professor Herzbergs two factor theory or the motivator-hygiene theory. In this study of engineers and accountant, Herzberg (1959) discovered that the reasons these professionals gave for experiencing motivation were quite different. The diagram of Herzbergs two factor theory of motivation is as under:-

The diagram shows that the absence of hygiene factors leads to job dissatisfaction, but when present, hygiene factors do not necessarily provide job satisfaction. In contrast, the presence of motivator doses not leads to job satisfaction if they hygienes are already in place.

Herzbergs work has influenced thinking in organisational behaviour and management. Its most enduring benefit is its focus on the effects of the company systems and job design on employees motivation and job satisfaction.


  1. Equity Theory: (Social Comparisons in the work setting)
  2. Equity theory as developed by Professor Stacy Adams (1965) makes a contribution to understanding how employees react to incentives and outcomes in the context of the performance job satisfaction relationship. The theory processes that employees gauge the fairness of their work outcomes in comparison to the work outcomes received by others who perform comparable jobs. To the extent that employees feel that their rewards are inadequate, they experience a state of imbalance or perceive inequity. Felt or perceived inequity motivation the employee to take action to address his dissatisfaction. They compare his rewards to the others employees in the sense of efforts. It might be the reason of absenteeism in your organisation because dissatisfied employees are mostly absent from the job.

  3. Expectancy Theory:

Expectancy theory has 2 different classes of outcome first level outcome result employees working in directed way. First level outcome can be performance at work, absenteeism or leaving from work. Second level outcome occur after first level outcome which includes getting as per motion receiving recognition.

Expectancy theory helps mangers to understand their employees behaviour within the organization. If the achieving individual believes the organization rewards than is instrumentalities will be positive and high and if the employees believe that organization does not equitably reward performance than it can leads towards the absent seem or leave.

Self esteem in Maslow hierarchy also explain expectancy theory, if employees have a positive self image they believe that they good work lead to good performance and they experience high expectancies for their performance behaviour and employees with negative self image believe that their ability or inadequate and they will put less effort to work and which can cause absenteeism at work which Leeds towards more cost and less productivity.

Job Satisfaction and Performance:

Job satisfaction is key work attitude because it continuously shapers all employees perceptions of events of work. The facets of job satisfaction 1) satisfaction with the work itself, 2) satisfaction with pay, 3) satisfaction with fellow workers, 4) satisfaction with supervision and satisfaction with promotion. Job satisfaction triggers the release of various intrinsic and extrinsic rewards. Extrinsic rewards are available through the organisation compensation system, while intrinsic rewards are linked to the psychological elements of the job. Remember, both the compensation system and the job design system must function properly to ensure perceived equity. The inequality in these can be raising the absenteeism in any organisation.

Job Stress and its causes and consequences:

Stressors refer to objects, events and situation in our physical and social environment that makes a demand on our minds and bodies. A stress response is a mental and physical to a stressor. Our perceptual mechanism including our terminal and instrumental values causes us to interpret the stressor in a positive or negative fashion.

Dr. Kenneth Cooper (1985) identified the tree causes of job stress: environmental, organisational and individual. And three categories of consequences of job stress exist: Physiological, psychological and behavioural.

Causes of Job Stress:

Environmental Factors:

  • Economical uncertainty
  • Political uncertainty
  • Technological uncertainty
  • Organisational Factors:

    • Task demands
    • Role demands
    • Interpersonal demands

    Individual Factors:

    • Family problems
    • Financial problems

    Consequences of Stress:

    Physiological Symptoms:

    • Headaches
    • High blood pressure
    • Heart diseases

    Psychological Symptoms:

    • Sleep disturbances
    • Depression, anxiety
    • Declines in job satisfaction

    Behavioural Symptoms:

    • Productivity level
    • Absenteeism
    • Substance abuse.


    Managers generally find it useful to compute and analyse the absenteeism occurrence. The following approach can be used in this regard.

    Total Time Lost:

    This is one of the most popular measures that is used. The computation gives a percentage of total scheduled work time that is lost to absenteeism. The formula for the measure is.

    Total time lost =Days lost to absenteeism for a periodAverage number of employees total days in period100


    Lateness is a form of absenteeism that can create work problems, particularly in manufacturing environments where machines and assembly lines are scheduled to start at a specific time. Excessive tardiness disrupts normal working operations, making it difficult for the first level supervisor to synchronise the beginning of a shift operation.

    Cost of Absenteeism

    There is a lot of cost the absenteeism cause to an organization. These can be in different areas of a company.

    • Separation costs:
    • Includes HR staff and supervisor time and salaries to prevent separations, exit interview time, unemployment expenses, legal fees for separation challenged, accrued vacation, continued benefits etc.

    • Production cost:
    • Includes that cost which a company faces when production charges are not met due to shortage of workers or high absenteeism in company.

    • Replacement costs:
    • Includes recruiting and advertising expenses, search fees, HR interviewer and staff time and salaries, employee referral fee, relocation and moving costs, supervisor and managerial time and salaries etc.

    • Training costs:
    • Includes paid orientation time, training staff time and salaries, costs of training material, co worker coaching time and salaries.

    • Hidden costs:

    Includes costs not obvious but affect lost productivity, decreased customer service, other unexpected employee turnover, missed project deadlines etc.


    An absence control policy can be help to manage and reduce absence levels, minimise disruption to workflow and production, save costs associated with absenteeism and prevent unnecessary extra pressure being placed on co-workers. The policy should ensure that absence is tackled in a fair and consistent manner and the element of managerial subjectivity will be removed by indicating unacceptable levels of absence and the procedures to deal with them. The key steps are as under to manage the absenteeism:-

    1. Keep records of absences:
    2. Research has show that people are less likely to be absent in companies where is recorded, monitored and managed. Document absences and check the extent to which you have problem. Feed the information back to line managers so that they know how effectively they are dealing with the situation.

    3. Define unacceptable levels of absence:
    4. Consider setting trigger points where employees know that if they are more than a certain number of times, within a given period, the situation will be investigate through counselling interviews.

    5. Establish formal reporting procedures:
    6. Require employee to notify either their line manager or personnel department of their absence by 10am on the first day of absence and to give some indication of the reason for the absence and how long it is likely to last.

    7. Hold return to work interviews
    8. Establish the reason for absence and whether the illness is likely to recur. If appropriate the line manager should refer the employee to the companys doctor or occupational health service. The line manager should also take the opportunity to update the employee on the developments that may have occurred during their absence. This approach will not worry those who have been genuinely sick but may deter others from taking avoidable absence.

    9. Maintain a safe and healthy workplace:
    10. Ensure that you practice the legal requirements on the health and safety at work. Consider encouraging people in healthy lifestyle by introducing policies that embrace no-smoking and no-alcohol and provide healthy eating options in the staff restaurant, access to exercise facilities.

    11. Motivate and gain commitment from staff:
    12. Find out what motives staff affects their commitment to the organisation. Think in term of the way they are managed, the content of their job, their role within the organisation and their employment ∓ working conditions. Remember that poor management can contribute to high absenteeism. Ask if there are benefits which would help improve attendance for example flexible working hours, loans for transport or support in caring for children or elderly relatives.

    13. Consider offering incentives
    14. Considering offering attendance rewards or bonuses or docking the pay of staff who takes sick leave. Beware, however, of the long term implication of such a move which might force genuinely ill people to come to work.

    15. Evaluate the absence control policy:

    Monitor the effects of the policy by assessing absence levels. Is the policy more successful in some areas of the organisation than others? Offer support and training to line manager as necessary.

    Part 2 of Assignment:

    Some organisation and its people may think that money is the most effective motivator while some of them opposed this kind of thought. According to Burke & Cooper (2004) When organisations value and reward people these people are committed to performing well As a result, the organisation accomplished more and it can then provide additional reward to employees and attracts and retain more talented ones. This leads to even higher organisational performance. It also involves developing a verity of HR practices that motivate people to peak performance with accompanying rewards.

    Organisation behaviour help people to understand employees behaviour, in which situation they feel stress and by which way they can be motivated and remove their stress and also help them to produce good result. If you understand human behaviour then you can easily influence them. Human behaviour in organisation depends upon external and internal factors and forces. Different scientists have given different theories to help managers understand human behaviour.

    The theories that we have discussed above have different impact on different persons. The theories also differ in strengths. Theories of motivation mainly from Maslow and Herzberg does not have find a very wide spread support but McClelland theory regarding the relationship between achievement and productivity. In general need theories are not very valid explanation of motivation.

    In order to attract the best talent to an organization, a culture of diversity and open communication is needed. Once an organization has the best talent it can find, the organization can improve efficiency and have more wide-spread viewpoints to learn from. Care must be taken though, to make sure the organizational concept is compatible with the strategic goals of an organization.

    There is a dispute that clear and higher level of goals leads to higher productivity. This provides the strong application that goal setting theory provides the most powerful explanation of dependant variable. The theory itself however does not address absenteeism, job satisfaction or turnover.

    Reinforcement theory has an impressive record for predicting factors such as quality and quantity at work persistent of effort absenteeism, tardiness and accident rates. It does not offer much insight into employee satisfaction or the decision to quit.

    Equity theory deals with productivity and job satisfaction, absence, and turnover variables. However its strength probably is that it provides the spark for research on organisation justice.

    Expectancy theory focuses on performance variable it has power to offer a relatively powerful explanation of employee, productivity, absenteeism, and turnover. But expectancy theory assumes that employee have few constraints on other decision discretion. It makes many of the same assumption that the rational model makes about individual decision making which limits its applicability. Expectancy theory has some validity because for much behaviour people consider expected outcomes. Whether an organization is for profit or not, motivating and utilizing the talent an organization has is vital in the business world today. Understanding organizational behaviour is a major factor for increased opportunity and success in the business world. Gaining an awareness of an organizations culture is necessary for continued diverse growth.


    Book Reference:

    1. Organisational Behaviour By Professor Robert Dailey (Edinburgh Business School Heriot-Watt University)
    2. Management and Organisational Behaviour By Laurie J. Mullins

    Internet Reference:


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