To reduce absenteeism, employers must address negative work experiences: WorkScore

To reduce absenteeism, employers must address negative work experiences: WorkScore

by Freya Lucas

April 09, 2019

Negative work experiences – such as feeling a low sense of achievement, feeling disengaged, or not believing in the organisation’s ethics and values – are impacting on absenteeism more than other wellbeing elements, Human Resources Director magazine has reported.


Suzanne Deeming, co-founder of WorkScore, reported that employees who experience negative work experiences are taking nearly twice as much leave as those who are feeling more positive about their time at work.


Absenteeism does not refer to valid reasons for missing work, such as accidents, caretaking or illness, referring, instead, to the practice of regularly staying away from work without a valid reason for doing so.


On average, Australian employees take 8.8 unscheduled days off per year, costing employers approximately $578 per employee, per absent day, with the annual cost of absenteeism to the Australian economy estimated at $44 billion per year.


Ms Deeming’s comments are based on data compiled by WorkScore, comparing data from respondents to the company’s wellbeing survey and their absenteeism over a six month period, Human Resources Director reported.


The research found that those with a low element score for “work” had higher rates of absenteeism. Those who took the most personal leave had the lowest scores in the areas of:


  • Feeling a sense of achievement
  • Feeling engaged at work
  • Aligning personal values and workplace values.


When employees had low ratings in each of these areas, their absenteeism was double that of their peers, with the WorkScore data supporting the idea that a positive workplace culture, and connecting employees with the vision and values of the company benefits business productivity.


Ms Deeming drew an association between a focus on wellbeing at work, and a reduction in absenteeism, saying that “employees who feel work cares about wellbeing or feel that work is having a positive impact on their wellbeing, take 15 per cent less personal leave”.


She added there was more to be drawn from the data than simply focusing on culture, adding “absenteeism rates are driven by what happens at work every day”.


Eight key areas which increased absenteeism were identified:  


  • Feeling a low sense of achievement at work,


  • Not receiving regular recognition at work,


  • Feeling disengaged by work,


  • Unaligned personal and workplace values,


  • A low sense of belonging and teamwork,


  • Having limited flexibility in hours and location,


  • Feeling the workplace doesn’t care about wellbeing and


  • Rating work as having a negative impact on wellbeing.


Employees who felt connected to their organisation, and who believe their organisation cares about their wellbeing, took 15 per cent less personal leave, Ms Deeming said, recommending that organisations take the following steps to reduce the negative impact of work on their wellbeing:


  • Provide regular, meaningful recognition


  • Promote work/life balance and flexibility


  • Focus on team and culture


  • Communicate the vision and values of the business.


The original article as shared by Human Resources Director can be accessed here.


For wellbeing tips contextualised to early childhood education and care, see here.