Research Emphasizes Importance of Absence Management

May 5, 2008 ( - A study by a San Francisco research group found a strong relationship between unscheduled absences and higher production costs either from increased staffing or reduced productive output.

A news release from the Integrated Benefits Institute (IBI) said the business effects of absence vary, depending on the employer’s business and practices, including the flexibility of their absence response, staffing decisions, output requirements, and compensation program.

“We found that there is considerable room for improvement for employers to track and determine the significant financial impact of health-related absence for their business,” said Thomas Parry, president of IBI, in the news release. “Even employers that track lost time may not track absence by cause or whether it is unscheduled.”

While some employers have trained replacement staff standing by, others simply lose revenue from not delivering their product, the research found. Normally, employers don’t know who is going to be absent on a given day, so having a replacement worker readily available isn’t usually possible.

IBI partnered with Sean Nicholson, associate professor and economist at Cornell University, for the research conducted in 2007. According to the announcement, the report features case studies from three industries including six power plants for a regional power company, a financial services call center, and a large, national retail department store.

A report summary is available at .