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Absenteeism and Presenteeism

Everybody knows that absent means not there, but there are many ways of being absent, some while actually present.

When we are implementing time and attendance systems, we regularly find that absence from the workplace has a number of processes already in place, but there are a whole lot of other issues that management wants to get a handle on.

Absenteeism

  • Consistent late arrivals - simply put, if the employee is not on the premises, he is absent.
  • Downing tools early and spending 10 to 15 minutes in the restrooms, getting ready to leave
  • Absence from the workstation to smoke, make tea, have a chat
  • Regular, long bathroom breaks
  • When collecting stationery or tools, taking a lo..o...ong time to do it.
  • Treating sick leave as a target

Presenteeism
  • Extended personal telephone calls 
  • Playing computer games or social networking
  • Dragging out projects and work, not meeting deadlines, but doing just enough to stay under the radar
It is true that presenteeism is also defined as coming to work when ill, and generously spreading the illness, leading to genuine absenteeism!  However, there are people who have conditions which are not enough to get them medically signed off, but not well enough to perform at an optimal level and this is also defined as presenteeism.

I have always preferred to think of it as per the list above, coming to work, being present, but really not adding real value.

Unfortunately, as we all know, the knock on impact of absenteeism in a business is deep.  The time it takes to re-organise resources, manage productivity and client expectations is one aspect, the increased stress on the people who are present, and management is significant.

While there is a great deal of research and advice around how to handle absenteeism, much of which includes a combination of Time and Attendance systems and a structured management approach, there are very clear indications that implementing wellness programs and focusing on improving levels of employee engagement, will have a very positive effect.

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