Absence and Employee Disengagement – What’s the Connection?

GrapevineHR.com announced that the top FTSE 100 CEOs including those of BAE Systems, Barclays, United Utilities, Marks and Spencer and Whitbread are concerned that the UK is losing around £26billion in annual output due to disengaged staff!

They should be concerned – employee engagement is ultimately all about performance.  If individuals are achieving their highest potential, the organisation as a whole will benefit. Customers will get better service, waste is reduced, efficiency is improved and overall performance is enhanced.  The workforce really becomes a competitive advantage. This all sounds good, and it is.  But the opposite is also true, low employee engagement leads to poor performance, it costs real money and must be tackled. 

Absence and tardy attendance is often an identifier for those who are less committed to the company, and often indicates an underlying problem.  Every organisation should measure absence levels across the workforce so that unscheduled absences are identified and, plans are put in place to understand the root cause and address the issue thus raising employee engagement – across the entire workforce.  

Low employee engagement doesn’t just manifest itself in those who are regularly absent from work, it has an effect on everyone else.  Someone close to me works in the fashion design industry and has recently moved job.  This move was made due to the high level of absence at her previous workplace resulting in additional pressure and workload for those that were present.  Records were not kept and the unscheduled absence was largely taking place unnoticed and certainly unaddressed by management.  When this happens, and/or lateness and long breaks also appear to go unaddressed, it’s the 70 to 80% of diligent workers who become disengaged.  To avoid this situation, and to reduce churn of your good employees, you need to know the size of your unscheduled absence issue and ensure managers are equipped to tackle an issue.

Using a real time automated workforce management solution an organisation can achieve visibility and control, absence can be managed down and productivity and performance boosted.  Increasing employee engagement and raising performance is an important element in any organisational strategy.  To make a start, capture the data you need to address unscheduled absence, you will then be on the road to ensuring your workforce are your competitive advantage and the customer experience is great and consistent.

In a future Blog I will discuss how automated flexible scheduling , which ensures the system is fair for all, can also be a good tool to engage staff as flexible schedules can be set to reflect an individual’s lifestyle and preferences.

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