Unscheduled Absences Cost Employers $760K a Year

October 12, 2007 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - According to a survey from CCH, the nation's largest employers estimate unscheduled absenteeism costs their businesses more than $760,000 per year in direct payroll costs, and even more when lower productivity, lost revenue, and the effects of poor morale are considered.

A news report on the 2007 CCH Unscheduled Absence Survey, conducted by Harris Interactive, said the survey found the absenteeism rate was 2.3% in 2007, down slightly from 2.5% last year.

According to the findings personal illness accounts for only 34% of unscheduled absences, while other reasons include family issues (22%), personal needs (18%), entitlement mentality (13%) and stress (13%).

For many employers surveyed it is no surprise when employees are likely to be no-shows, the news report said. Employers said they can expect a discernable pattern in unscheduled absences, such as people calling in sick on Mondays and Fridays, around certain holidays, and during flu and hay fever seasons.

The survey examined a wide range of work-life programs that could help alleviate unscheduled absences. On a scale of 1 to 5 (with 5 being most effective), the work-life programs rated highest by respondents for reducing unscheduled absences are Alternative Work Arrangements (3.6), Telecommuting (3.5), Compressed Work Week (3.3), Leave for School Functions (3.2), and Flu Shot Programs (3.2).

However, of the work-life programs offered by employers, the top five in use, according to the survey, are Employee Assistance Plans (72%), Flu Shot Programs (66%), Wellness Programs (60%), Leave for School Functions (54%) and Alternative Work Arrangements (54%).

The survey found the number of work-life programs is down from 11 in 2006 to 9 in 2007. With healthcare costs continuing to climb in the U.S., employers may be trying to offset these high costs by eliminating programs that are perceived as being “nice to have,” versus “need to have,” CCH said.