That last-minute call from an employee saying he won’t be in today? It’s likely costing your company a lot more than you realize.
That’s because unplanned absences cost companies a bundle each year – though few realize just how much cash they devour.
Fewer than half of employers currently track the indirect costs associated with these types of absences, says the latest HR online poll by the Society for Human Resource Management.
It’s a financial hit few organizations can afford, no matter what their size.
The average total cost of unplanned absences adds up to 5.8% of total payroll a year. That’s according to Mercer, Inc.
Employers are especially vulnerable now, whether it’s employees calling out “sick” at the last minute for some holiday shopping, when they’re caught short on childcare when a kid has the flu, etc.
There’s no time to lose – check out the best strategies working today to keep these absences to a minimum.
ID what indirect costs actually are
Odds are your company is tracking how big a bite each employee absence puts on your organization when it comes to direct costs. But you also need to be monitoring the indirect expenses that plague companies when employees are out for a long time or on short notice. Two for your CFO’s calculations:
- Replacement labor. This is especially critical now, as most companies are running as lean as possible, staffing-wise. Someone calls out unexpectedly, and no one else has enough free time to pick up the slack. That means forking out extra dollars for temporary help or paying co-workers overtime so the work gets done.
- Productivity losses. Even if you have a great sub, fewer collection calls will get made or widgets produced than if the usual staffer were doing the job. You also want to factor in the toll a drop in morale has on productivity – morale dips almost always accompany an absence where others must pick up the slack.
Get tough (but not too tough)
Understanding the costs of these absences is one thing – controlling them is quite another. Some companies are taking a tougher stance to keep from getting caught short. A few examples you might consider from a “no-fault” attendance strategy:
- Set limits. Some of your peers have begun limiting the number of unscheduled absences an employee can take in a year – and then charging them for days when they exceed it.
- Create consequences. One strategy working for some firms: Unscheduled absences are OK; but that person is no longer eligible for a perfect attendance award (usually earning them extra time off), no matter what the reason for the absence.
Cut it off before it starts
Of course you’ll do all you can to keep this costly problem under control with your existing employees. But there’s a way you can slash your exposure with each new person you add to your payroll … and it’s free.
Have hiring managers probe prospective employees (in questionnaires, testing or during interviews) on their attitudes towards dependability and conscientiousness. Study after study shows hiring folks with a high regard for these traits cuts unscheduled absences by 50%.