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Ideas and insights for today’s people-centered leaders.

Ask Visier is a weekly column where a people analytics expert dives into one of the 2000+ business questions available in Visier and shares how to take action on the answers you might uncover on that topic.

Why should an HR pro want to know which employees have excessive absenteeism?

High employee absenteeism poses significant challenges for organizations. Unfortunately, many overlook this problem. Not all fully consider absenteeism’s cost to the organization in terms of loss of productivity, and reduced morale of employees. In addition to the impacts organizations face with absenteeism, it’s important to consider the well-being of employees and ensure they have the support they need to be successful. 

Issues such as physical health, psychological health, and work-life balance affecting attendance at work were brought to light with the COVID-19 pandemic. Organizations began to see employees facing higher levels of stress, fatigue and burnout. Many were faced with the challenge of taking on caregiver duties for family members while still maintaining a full-time job. Some employees were forced to take unplanned time off to take care of their loved ones which resulted in staffing challenges and high overtime costs for organizations.

Consider the impact of absenteeism not just on the organization but also to the employee and their peers. Absence data helps HR professionals:

  • Understand if a problem exists, and the nature and extent of it, in order to develop and deploy proper solutions 
  • Initiate disciplinary action or redesign work schedules if employee absenteeism results from family or personal wellness issues
  • Support broader analysis of team dynamics such as compliance to attendance policies
  • Change shift-by-shift workforce planning by job type if necessary 

Other questions or analysis HR managers should ask to get the full picture?

Absentee data can help you understand which employees have high absenteeism and identify specific departments, divisions, geographic locations, roles, or even demographic populations are experiencing high levels of absenteeism. Dive deeper with these questions:

What is the relationship between absenteeism and overtime?

Do employees work overtime to cover for teammates who are absent? High overtime can contribute to fatigue, burnout, and ultimately attrition.

What is the relationship between absenteeism and turnover?

Explore whether high absenteeism leads to attrition. Fatigue and burnout of teammates who are required to cover for those who are absent is a possible cause of attrition. Another possibility is that voluntary absenteeism is an indicator of cultural problems within the work unit.

Does absenteeism reduce productivity?

Investigate whether absenteeism places a drag on productivity. This can indicate a need to increase the number of people working in those roles in order to replace the absent employees and sufficiently cover the workload.

Why is it a challenge to answer questions about employee absenteeism without Visier?

Absence reporting typically requires a lot of manual effort as time and attendance data is typically housed in a different system from other people data. Visier eliminates the manual work, reduces time and effort, and makes it easy by bringing all of the insights together so organizations can take action. Organizations can take advantage of our pre-built guidebooks which walk them through exploration of this data or can build their own narrative using our explore capabilities. Here are some examples of attendance at work broken down in visual form.

Which employees have the highest absenteeism this year?

Identify the employees with the most and highest frequency of absenteeism, and determine the best course of action for each individual.

employee absence metrics tracked
Absence metrics tracked in detail.

Which job families have high absenteeism?

Does job role affect attendance at work? Explore the distribution of absenteeism across job families, and prioritize critical roles for further analysis and action.

employee absence by job type
Employee absence by job family shows which roles have more absences.

Which departments have high recent absenteeism?

Identify departments and location with high recent absenteeism. These could be places with emerging safety, cultural, or other issues.

Absence ratios by location and organization
Visier breaks down employee absence ratios by more than one variable.

Can Visier help separate regular employee absenteeism and COVID-19 related absenteeism?

Absolutely! We’ve seen customers do this to support their crisis management initiatives and programs. In order for this to work, COVID-19 time off would need to be an option for employees to select as an absence reason. Some organizations have gotten very detailed here and separate COVID-19 time off into more granular categories to determine if time off was due to personal illness, caring for an ill family member, or due to childcare duties (which spiked when schools and daycares closed).

Visier enables organizations to look at the breakdown of absence rates by absence reason to determine how much time off is pandemic related. This can be viewed as a trend over time to understand if absence rates due to COVID-19 are increasing or decreasing.

Employee absenteeism is a significant problem for many organizations, affecting lost productivity, morale, and deadlines that aren’t met. According to SHRM, the cost of excessive absence is often misunderstood, seen as not easily measured or dismissed as a negligible amount because the costs are largely included in payroll expenses. Whether the causes are burnout, injuries, lack of childcare, or poor management, pinpointing the cause is easier with easy access to the people cloud, a term we use to bring together concepts like data democratization and better people management across the entire organization.  

Continue reading about employee absenteeism: 

 

About the Author

Jennifer Smith is passionate about helping organizations through digital transformation, unleashing data to help solve their most complex business problems. She brings over 10 years of applied analytics and has extensive consulting experience. As a People Analytics Consultant with Visier, she partners with Fortune 500 companies across multiple industries and geographies enabling them to lean into data driven insights to maximize workforce effectiveness and performance.

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