Cracking the Code of Employee Absenteeism: Unmasking the Mysterious Vanishers
By Stavy Papasotiriou, Organisational Psychologist and Founder of Work Unlocked
Have you ever wondered why some employees seem to vanish into thin air, leaving behind empty desks and puzzled co-workers? The phenomenon of high employee absenteeism has puzzled researchers and managers alike.
In this blog, we will embark on a journey to uncover the secrets behind the reasons for increased employee absenteeism rates so that you can develop the right strategies to tackle this critical and costly issue. Brace yourself for a rollercoaster ride filled with perceived inequity, withdrawal reactions, and the fascinating ways employees restore the delicate balance between their efforts and organisational outcomes.
THE GREAT ESCAPE: ABSENTEEISM AS THE HOUDINI MOVE
Picture this: an employee, feeling a sense of organisational inequity, dons an invisible cape and disappears into the abyss of absenteeism. Absenteeism, alongside turnover and performance decrements, becomes their secret weapon to reduce efforts in response to perceived injustices. It's the modern-day Houdini move, allowing employees to protest silently and seek the equilibrium they yearn for.
RESENTMENT RISING: THE EMOTION BEHIND THE DISAPPEARING ACT
Perceived inequity generates a negative emotional state – the notorious feeling of resentment. This emotional cocktail becomes the catalyst for various withdrawal reactions, including our elusive friend, absenteeism. When employees feel the scales of fairness tipping out of balance, they respond by taking a day off, leaving their absence as a visible mark of discontent.
EXIT, STAGE LEFT: THE TEMPTATION TO SEEK GREENER PASTURES
As outputs, such as pay setting and pay structure, fall within the domain of management, employees resort to altering their inputs to restore the input/output ratio. Sometimes, the allure of another organisation becomes too tempting to resist, prompting employees to spread their wings and fly away. Absenteeism becomes their way of saying, "I'm outta here!" in the most noticeable way possible.
UNMASKING THE NEMESIS: THE DETRIMENTAL EFFECTS OF ABSENTEEISM
Absenteeism is considered the arch-nemesis of organisational harmony. It's the behaviour that sends shivers down the spines of managers, disrupting workflows and leaving colleagues scratching their heads. Universally recognised as one of the most damaging behaviours, it highlights the lengths employees will go to restore balance when faced with organisational inequity. It's time to shine a light on this notorious disruptor.
COPING WITH INEQUITY: THE ART OF ABSENTEEISM VARIATION
According to Adams' theory, the adoption of absenteeism as a reaction varies not only based on the magnitude of inequity but also on an individual's tolerance and ability to cope flexibly. Each disappearing act is a unique masterpiece, crafted by an employee's perception of fairness and their personal coping mechanisms. Understanding these nuances holds the key to mitigating absenteeism's grip on organisational success.
In the mysterious realm of high employee absenteeism, we've embarked on a captivating journey to unravel the motivations behind the vanishing acts. From perceived inequity to resentment, from altering inputs to seeking greener pastures, employees employ various strategies to address their grievances. By acknowledging the detrimental effects of absenteeism and delving into the intricacies of coping with inequity, organizations can unlock the secrets to reducing absenteeism and fostering a workplace where vanishing acts become a thing of the past. So, let us bid farewell to disappear employees and welcome a future where engagement, equity, and enthusiasm take centre stage!
About the author
Stavy Papasotiriou is an organisational psychologist and the visionary behind Work Unlocked — a leading HR consultancy on a mission to revolutionise employee engagement, performance, and retention in businesses worldwide. With a profound understanding of HR practices, Stavy leverages psychological principles to unleash the untapped potential of workforces. At Work Unlocked, Stavy crafts bespoke strategies that are grounded in research and tailored to each organisation's unique needs. These strategies are designed to yield remarkable results while requiring minimal resources.