An Investigation into the Causes of Absenteeism in 'Company X'.
Undergraduate thesis, Dublin, National College of Ireland.
Absenteeism is increasingly becoming an area of concern for Employers. In these economically challenging times when Employers are focusing on cost cutting across their businesses, absenteeism is an area that is being highlighted as an issue in need of addressing. Because of competitive pressures, Companies can no longer afford to carry absenteeism that they may have tolerated in the past (www.ibec.ie). In 2010, the Irish Business and Employer’s Confederation (IBEC) calculated the cost per employee to be €818 per annum resulting in a loss to the Irish exchequer of €1.5 billion (IBEC Absence Survey, 2010).
What is Absenteeism?
Huczynski and Fitzpatrick defined Absence as “the non-attendance of employees for scheduled work when they are expected to attend” (1989, p.4). Harrison and Prices (2003) defined Absence as “the lack of physical presence at a behaviour setting when and where one is expected to be” (Harrison and Prices (2003) as cited by Shapira-Lishchinksy and Rosenblatt, 2003, p.204).
Absence Management is the term used to reduce levels of absenteeism through the introduction of policies and procedures. The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) found in their Absence Management Survey 2010 that Public Sector employees’ average absenteeism levels are 9.7 days per employee per year in comparison to the Private Sector’s at 6.6 days. This rate may come under increased scrutiny because of reform in the Irish Public Sector. “High absence levels obviously reduce productivity but also have knock-on effects as other employees may be placed under increased pressure and stress” (CIPD, Absence Management Survey, 2010, p.10).
The subject of Absenteeism has been researched under many different headings over the years. Examples of such Studies eing: “contrasted paid with unpaid absences, organisationally excused with organisationally unexcused absence, genuine with false reasons for absence, voluntary with involuntary” (Huczynski and Fitzpatrick, 1989, p.4). The “science” of Absence Management is a vast topic and encompasses areas of Management Theory such as motivation, organisational behaviour, job satisfaction, employee engagement and communication, costs, measurements and recording processes. Due to the broad nature of the subject and the limitations of the thesis itself, the Author has decided to focus on the causes of absenteeism and will evaluate Company X in terms of what factors impact on absence within the organisation. This will be done through the gathering and dissemination of thoughts and opinions of Senior Management and Employees through a combination of interviews and a questionnaires supplemented by secondary data gathered from academic journals and various employer organisations such as IBEC and CIPD.
The Author will highlight the importance of calculating the cost of absence together with providing information on the measurements available. Absence has been researched by sociologists and psychologists for many years. It draws on motivational and behavioural theories. The Author has researched many of the most common reasons and discussed them.
The chapter on research methodology provides an insight into how the Author conducted the research. The Author is using an organisation she is familiar with as a case study. The organisation will be referred to as Company X. This is to ensure confidentiality regarding the findings and information provided. Following the Author’s own research into Company X, she has made recommendations which the Company could adopt to provide a more comprehensive absence management policy.
In conclusion, the Author will summarise her findings based on her own research and that of current academic thinking on the subject.
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