Absenteeism continues to cost South African companies millions of rands yearly. In this article, Johnny Johnson discloses some of the latest research finding in order to help us identify the causes of absenteeism in our organisations and give us insight into how we can reduce these figures.
by Johnny Johnson
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Johnny Johnson is a chartered accountant by profession who started CAM Solutions in 2006. CAM Solutions has developed a statistical software product, unique to the South African market, called Absolv, which can identify and benchmark trends and patterns in absenteeism in corporate South Africa from information collated from employees' doctors’ certificates. The software is in use by more than 70 South African companies that have a combined total of more than 150 000 employees. Once benchmarked, the summarised absenteeism trends and statistics are made public as benchmark information so that the working world can be aware of when and where absenteeism threats and problems occur. Clients and users of the software obtain detailed and confidential analysis of their absenteeism situation in the form of an Absenteeism Management Report (AMR).
Research conducted by Absolv absenteeism software, which generates statistics from 150 000 employees in more than 70 South African companies every year, showed some interesting trends in absenteeism in South African companies. The information was gathered using data from doctor-issued sick certificates from employees in these firms.
Absenteeism due to stress The statistics showed that absenteeism due to stress increased slightly in companies around South Africa compared to 2008. This is in line with indications that the country was experiencing an economic downturn. From January to June 2009, 3.4% of all sick leave incidents were due to psychological illness such as stress, depression and anxiety. In the same period in 2008, 3.1 % of all sick absenteeism incidents were related to stress.
With the economic situation worsening in the country, many organisations (especially in the industrial sector) are cutting back on staff. Employees fear that they will loose their jobs and stress is taking its toll, both financially and emotionally. To counter this problem, companies can ask themselves what they can do to reassure their staff and create the right environment to make them happier and more productive. If we ignore employee stress levels, it can increase to such a point where it influences their ability to perform.
When are most people absent? When we look at when people are absent, the statistics showed that:
Employees take the least amount of sick leave in December and January each year. Information showed that December has the lowest absenteeism rate of any month of the year at 1.08%, with January following closely behind at 1.43%. This trend is repeated with similar results each year;
In December, lower back pain was the number one reason people were off ill;
More research revealed that gastroenteritis was the biggest reason employees took time off in January and February every year;
Following this, influenza was the chief cause of workplace absenteeism from March to November each year;
It was these three illnesses, in addition to respiratory infection, that dominated the reasons for workplace absenteeism every month in any year.