Absenteeism may be a Symptom of other Problems

We track the reason people visit this web site to determine the issues of most interest to you our clients, prospects and friends. Overwhelmingly, the number one reason people come here is to find out information about managing absenteeism and turnover.

Most organizations approach to absenteeism (point systems, no-fault systems, reward systems) result in spotty, temporary improvements at best and are harmful at worst. Many of these policies teach some employees how to play the system so they are always just on this side of termination. Others, who were otherwise excellent employees, have been terminated because policy dictated it. Productivity continues to suffer because there aren't enough people to cover the work assignments.

There's no argument that high rates of absenteeism and turnover are the biggest problems that American business faces today, worsened by lower unemployment rates. To make things even more complicated, most companies greatly underestimate the cost of both their absenteeism and turnover. Not only are the direct costs monumental but the indirect and hidden costs can be the difference between profit and loss or being able to maintain the operating budget.

The solution to this problem is simple but revolutionary. It requires a dramatic paradigm shift. Effective absenteeism results in a cultural change by requiring companies to reject old paradigms and explore a new philosophy that says the way employees are managed may be a more significant factor in controlling absenteeism and turnover rates than any policy that rewards or punishes it.

Crystal Clear Concepts' Absenteeism Management Program results in a culture change by requiring companies to reject old paradigms and explore a new paradigm that will solve the problem of absenteeism.

Work is An Element of Self-Esteem

The very core of the new absenteeism philosophy is the concept that working is a crucial element of self-esteem. Most employees don't miss work because they are lazy and do not want to come to work. They find satisfaction in working. In reality, most absenteeism is a symptom of other problem(s).

Contrary to most policies, which concentrate on just absenteeism, itself, with tougher penalties for poor attendance or rewards for good attendance, this philosophy treats absenteeism as an indicator of underlying problems that create absenteeism. These problems must be solved to improve attendance which automatically improves quality, productivity and profit.

Program Benefits

It is extraordinarily difficult for managers to comprehend that their management style, working conditions, employees' relationships with one another or personal problems could impact negatively or positively on attendance. Yet, without a doubt, such factors play a major part in the causes of absenteeism. Our figures show that up to 75% of all absenteeism is relationship-based.

Most managers are startled with the discoveries that come out of our program. They are surprised, embarrassed and stunned at their discoveries of the real causes of absenteeism and how easy absenteeism and turnover is to solve.

Factors affecting Absenteeism

Much research exists on factors affecting absenteeism and turnover. As might be expected, almost all of the factors affecting absenteeism also affect turnover. Factors affecting absenteeism include the following::

• Job satisfaction

• Workers' personal factors

• Safety

• Organizational factors

• Job performance

• Management

Job Satisfaction

Previous studies do not agree on how absenteeism and job satisfaction are related. Some researchers find no relationship between the two, while others find a highly negative relationship.

In analyzing previous research on turnover, we could not help but think that researchers could apply different measures across studies for job satisfaction. We believe that using different measures for turnover can maximize the reliability of turnover prediction.

Workers' Personal Factors

The two most studied workers' personal factors are age and tenure. Some discrepancies were found among the studies done on absenteeism as it relates to age and tenure. The studies on voluntary turnover found a negative relationship between age and turnover. However, some of those studies had various problems in the research work. Age alone may not prove to be an accurate predictor of voluntary turnover. Past research shows that age and turnover are not statistically related and many studies have shown small correlation values. The general trend in all the studies was, if anything, a slightly negative relationship between age and turnover.

It is a common belief that longer tenure is associated with lower turnover. This tenure-turnover relationship was consistent among most of the research studies. However, an overall analysis of previous research found that the relationships of tenure and age produce almost no effects on voluntary turnover. Studies in which the researchers made their conclusions based on examining records of previous work generally found a negative relationship between tenure and turnover. The studies that were based on an observation of ongoing work found little or no relationship between the two.


No research for the construction industry specifically addressed absenteeism and safety. In general, researchers agree that high absenteeism can result in unsafe working conditions. For example, those who must fill in for absent workers can become more easily fatigued and make dangerous mistakes. However, researchers do not entirely agree on the factors that cause accidents. Common sense dictates that whatever the reasons may be, lowering the accident rate in the workplace is a necessary goal. Managers who are able to reduce absenteeism can have a positive effect on workplace safely.

Organizational Factors

Organizational factors encompass both company administration and personal characteristics of workers. Organizational factors for both absenteeism and turnover include the following:

• Pay

• Company size

• Work crew size and interaction

• Tasks

• Responsibilities

• Worker commitment

Previous research reveals a clear relationship between absenteeism and organizational factors. For example, large work crews generally experienced higher absenteeism rates than small work crews. A high level of worker commitment results in lower absenteeism rates. Even group interactions can have an effect. One researcher found that workers' absence patterns reflected that of their workgroup. If a workgroup tolerated absenteeism, workers were absent more often. Another study found that increased pay led to increased worker commitment, while repetitive tasks reduced commitment.

Studies on how organizational factors affect turnover agree that pay, promotion and commitment have an inverse relationship to turnover. Good salaries, opportunities for promotion and worker commitment generally result in lower turnover rates.

Job Performance

Job performance is a relatively new factor that researchers are examining for its ability to predict turnover. Researchers have consistently found an inverse relationship between job performance and turnover. Poorer-performing workers tend to quit more often than higher-performing workers.


Although past studies give interesting suggestions for reducing absenteeism, none of the proposed methods were tested. Some of the methods used include the following:

• Offering rewards for attendance.

• Administering disciplinary action.

• Improving communication with workers.

Some of the reviewed research stated that these methods are effective; others did not. Many of the studies on managing turnover are qualitative. Researchers have developed several models to help management better understand and manage turnover trends.

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