Canadian organizations don't track employee absenteeism well, even though rates are on the rise, according to a new report.
Organizations offer fairly standard programs — notably sick leave, short-term disability and long-term disability — to deal with employee absences. But less than one-half of organizations surveyed by the Conference Board of Canada track absenteeism rates and only a fraction of respondents track costs, according to
Beyond Benefits II: Disability Plans and Absence Management in Canadian Workplaces
“Absenteeism rates reached their highest point in several years in 2008-09. The implications of absenteeism for organizations are significant, both in terms of lost wages and productivity and in the potential to substantially reduce costs through better management of their programs,” said Karla Thorpe, associate director of compensation and industrial relations at the Conference Board.
Organizations have traditionally focused on watching their long-term disability programs more closely than sick leave or short-term disability programs. Yet, the survey found an average of nine per cent of full-time employees were on short-term disability in 2008.
Only 40 per cent of the 255 survey respondents indicated they track absenteeism rates. These organizations reported they lost 6.6 days per full-time equivalent position, an increase from previous Conference Board
Compensation Planning Outlook
surveys. The direct cost of absenteeism averaged 2.6 per cent of payroll in these organizations in 2008.
The absenteeism rate reported by Canadian organizations is higher than the rate found in both the United States and United Kingdom, at 5.3 and about five days per year, respectively.
The report outlines steps that organizations can take to better manage their programs, including:
• identifying the root causes of absenteeism
• taking proactive steps to improve the health and well-being of employees
• having a return-to-work program in place
• focusing on communication and education
• getting involved early when employees are absent
• keeping in constant contact with employees on leave.
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