PEI Manufacturers Explore Issues Around Absenteeism

By Joan Richard – September 27, 2010
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Without exception, the challenge of managing attendance issues is one where organizations want, and need, to improve. The ability to produce and deliver efficiently and on time depends very much on whether employees, at all levels of the organization,come to work.

In approaching this topic and discussions on how best to manage attendance issues, it seems important to explore the reasons the people DO NOT show up for work. Through round table discussions, the following were pinpointed:

  • Stress
  • Coping Skills
  • Illness
  • because it's not important
  • personality Conflicts
  • Because they can
  • Boredom
  • Lack of Commitment and Engagement
  • Challenge of off shift / family
  • Family Illness
  • Some see sick time as a benefit - an entitlement
  • Don't feel needed
  • Unhappy with Work environment
  • Depression / Mental Illness
  • No Motivation
  • "Mental Health Day"
  • Lack of repercussion 
  • Last minute family Emergency
  • Don't like their boss - suspected by some to be one of the top reasons

It becomes evident very quickly that because the reasons are so varied that it is necessary to take a broader approach than perhaps we have in the past. We were very fortunate in this event to have the participation and perspective of George Raine of Montana HR.

Typically policies have focused on solely the management of absenteeism and not so much the prevention. George points out that this is an issue that needs to be attacked on several fronts;

  • Personal values - Hire for good attendance
  • Relationship to Work and Team - Create Peer expectations
  • Cultural Expectations - Build a contractual and policy base for attendance
  • Employer responses - know the legal tests; is the absenteeism blameworthy or Innocent
  • Return to Work Practices - Avoid or reduce the extent of the absence

Through George's expansion on the previous points, he drives home the realization that we cannot create and effectively use policies that are typically designed to manage that 5% of the workforce that are regular offenders of unjustified absenteeism. This goes back to the 95 - 5 rule that is so common.

Some interesting points;

  • Canadian Average for Absenteeism - 12% and increasing
  • Establish Clear standards for Doctors notes
  • Supervisors will support a policy only if it doesn't take too much time and if it gets acted upon.

Georges entire presentation is available on the PEI member page and contains expanded detail on the points I have shared.

Thank you to Vector Aerospace for welcoming folks to their facility and to George Raine for offering him input towards this topic.



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Joan Richard
September 27, 2010

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