Absenteeism

Written By:
Paul Tracy
Updated August 5, 2020

What is Absenteeism?

In the business world, absenteeism refers to the rate at which employees do not arrive for work as scheduled.

How Does Absenteeism Work?

Company XYZ is a health care provider. It has 25 nurses who are each responsible for seeing 10 patients a day. Every day, one or two nurses are not at work due to vacation or sickness. However, in the past month absenteeism has risen. Now, four or five nurses are often missing for the day, putting a severe strain on the nurses who do come to work, increasing the wait times for patients, and increasing the number of medical errors the nurses are making.

Why Does Absenteeism Matter?

Absenteeism increases costs and lowers profits because it reduces productivity and often work quality. A similar problem, presenteeism, occurs when employees choose to stay at work but handle personal and family issues at their desks rather than working. Many forms of absenteeism are protected by law (such as family leave under FMLA). Often, however, absenteeism can increase when workers feel stressed. U.S. companies lose billions due to chronic employee absenteeism.