Unplanned Worker Outages: No Good for Anyone

April 6, 2007 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - Unplanned worker absences are not good for anyone concerned - employees or employers.

A news release from Nationwide Better Health, a workplace health consultant, said its recent survey found that instances of employees being away from work without prior notice increase colleagues’ workloads and stress and hurt companies’ bottom lines. The survey indicated unplanned worker absences are normally due to illness.

According to the announcement, survey findings included:

  • 71% of respondents stated their managers do not question them after they call off from work. This number varied significantly between generations – 80% of Baby Boomers reported not being questioned, while only 57% of Gen Yers claimed the same.
  • When calling off due to a health-related reason, 57% of Gen Y (ages 18-27) respondents attributed their sick day to the same recurring condition. Only 41% of Baby Boomers (ages 45-60) claimed the same.
  • 53% of workers surveyed agreed that their colleagues’ unplanned absences leave them with more work to do, and Gen Xers (ages 28-44) felt the most burdened at 57%. 50% of both Generation Y and Baby Boomer respondents felt burdened.
  • More than half of all workers reported feeling additional stress after returning to work from an unplanned absence. Survey results indicated female employees (58%) tend to have more stress after returning to work than male employees (48%).

A key lesson for employers, according to the announcement: Keep a close eye on the unplanned outages in your office.

“Monitoring and addressing absenteeism is key to maintaining both employee satisfaction and company performance,” said Holly Snyder, president of Nationwide Better Health, in the news release . “Absence management – and getting to the core of why employees call off from work – not only helps plan day-to-day staffing, but also enhances earnings and delivers higher productivity levels.”

The survey results are based upon telephone interviews conducted among a national probability sample of 862 adults, comprised of 512 men and 350 women, 18 years of age and older, and employed full time. Interviews were conducted by Opinion Research Corporation between March 8 and March 12, 2007.