Absenteeism: When it’s more than calling in sick

Sick LeaveOccasional absences from work are unavoidable; people get sick or injured, have to take care of others, or need time during business hours to handle personal business. Excessive absenteeism, however, can present a real challenge to employers.

Absenteeism is defined as the habitual pattern of absence from the workplace. It costs U.S. companies billions of dollars each year. 1 The costs can be attributed to many factors, including:

  • Wages paid to absent employees
  • High-cost replacement workers (overtime pay for other employees and/or temporary workers)
  • Administrative costs of managing absenteeism
  • Lower profits/decreased business
  • Lower quality goods/services resulting from overtime fatigue or under-staffing
  • Reduced productivity or morale among employees who have to “fill in” or do extra work to cover absent coworkers.

Because missed work days can have a profound financial effect on a company’s bottom line, it is beneficial for most businesses to implement strategies to equitably monitor, reduce and respond to absenteeism. Consider the following steps to cut down on absenteeism.

  • A written attendance policy that clearly outlines expectations
  • Incentives to maintain good attendance
  • A tiered absentee policy
  • Flexible time off
  • Work-life and wellness programs that provide employee support
  • Pinpoint causes of worker discontent and eliminate them
  • Address poor management

Need additional guidance?

For clients who enroll in MHN’s Employee Assistance Program, MHN can help. Our MHN’s management consultants can provide professional guidance and support for managing difficult workplace situations, troubled employees and job performance issues. Our consultants have backgrounds in professional counseling, human resources and business, allowing them to offer the insight, assessment, feedback, and action plans that are right for your managers and employees. MHN’s services include management consultation, job performance referrals, onsite critical incident response services and Department of Transportation referrals. To learn more, please call 1-800-327-7526 or email productinfo@mhn.com.


1 The Causes and Costs of Absenteeism in the Workplace, Forbes, July 10, 2013.


This article is for informational and self-help purposes only. It should not be treated as a substitute for financial, medical, psychiatric, psychological, or behavioral health care advice, or as a substitute for consultation with a qualified professional.

Managed Health Network, LLC (MHN) is a subsidiary of Health Net, Inc. The MHN family of companies includes Managed Health Network, MHN Services and MHN Government Services. Health Net and Managed Health Network are registered service marks of Health Net, Inc. or its affiliates. All rights reserved.




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Gabriel Padilla