Absenteeism, which occurs when employees do not show up for work is a growing issue that needs to be addressed by employers. Its negative effect on productivity creates an obvious roadblock to achieving company goals. However, a significant number of employees are also guilty of committing “Presenteeism”. This term is used when referring to lost productivity and performance due to employees showing up at work but not really “showing up to work”; these employees do not perform at optimal capacity due to sickness, medical conditions, or simply distraction caused by personal issues such as: caring for a sick relative, financial or marital problems.
Presenteeism is very different and not always as apparent or easily measured as is the case with absenteeism. Many health and wellness programsin place at companies focus on absenteeism. However, solely focusing on absenteeism distorts the relationship between employee health/work‐life quality and employee productivity, because the assumption becomes that when people are at work they are being productive.Unfortunately, the overwhelming fact is that when employees come to work ill, they can have a negative impact on business performance and productivity.
Some employers invest in providing a healthy work environment because it is a reflection of organizational values. However, many employers require a more evident return on investment (ROI) in order to realize the value of health and wellness programs. Presenteeism can have downward spiraling effects on a company’s output and present hidden long‐term costs.
“The increased financial burden and impacts due to presenteeism include work related accidents, equipment breakage, absences related to family‐work life balance, errors in judgement, poor quality of work, conflicts and interpersonal problems”. 1
According to Statistics Canada, on average each employee uses 7.5 days per year or 3% of salary committing absenteeism. Studies of some chronic conditions and health risk factors found that lost productivity from presenteeism was 7.5 times greater than productivity loss from absenteeism. For some stress related health problems such as heart disease, hypertension, migraines, and neck or back pain, the ratio increased to 15 times greater.
Presenteeism is also related to disengagement. Employees who are moderately engaged in or actively disengaged from their work, show up, but do not produce; this has a significant impact on morale and productivity. Towers Perrin found that companies with the highest level of employee engagement achieve better financial results and are more successful in keeping their valued employees.
In order to take additional steps in demonstrating interest in employees and improving employee performance by reducing their Presenteeism and Absenteeism, employers can engage EAP (Employee Assistance Program) providers.
The goal of EAPs is to provide employees and their families with support and help needed to deal with personal problems that might hinder their work performance. A recent study…..Morneau Shepell found that employees who use EAPs often experience positive changes in their work performance, such as being late or absent fewer days, having higher levels of work productivity, and improving their work team relations. The bottom line…..EAP intervention translates into a 25% reduction in health-related lost productivity costs for organizations, providing a 1 to 8 return on investment.
1. According to Employers Health Coalition. Numerical facts found at Statistics Canada.
This is a guest post by Tony Dorzek, Managing Partner at Financial Wellness Planning, a provider of a standalone Employee Assistance Program (EAP) or as an add-on EAP, Group Benefits and RRSPs. For more information, click here to download a brochure or visit www.financialwellnessplanning.ca
Employee retention has long been a source of anxiety for managers looking to establish long term success and reliable performance. There are numerous factors that can lead to shorter than ideal employment cycles, many of which dealing with intangibles not readily apparent to most managers. But there are some key practices that can aid in elevating staff retention rates that will enhance company performance and goal achievement.
Employee satisfaction is one of the more overlooked indicators of poor staff retention rates and, yet, it is an extremely simple area to address. Many supervisors believe workforce satisfaction should be exclusively tied to monetary benefits, which, in today’s economy, are often less than pleasing. However, more often than not employees are displeased with their work environment due to factors such as recurring perceived failures, lack of promotion opportunities, and poor rewards. These issues can be remedied by setting attainable goals for both the short and long-term, communicating company verticals, ensuring employee reviews are detailed and thoughtful, or implementing flexible scheduling for top performers.
Excessive stress in the workplace is one of the leading detractors in staff retention. Some of the biggest culprits in raising stress levels and lowering retention rates include inter-employee conflicts, role ambiguity, and poor relationships with management. These stressors can be mitigated by better defining employees’ responsibilities and providing thorough job descriptions, reducing or reassigning tasks to reduce task overload burden, and implementing structured communication protocols with management to provide comfortable venues for airing grievances and venting frustrations. A more extreme measure is to bring in an outside consultant or mediator to get to the bottom of stressful issues and implement relationship building initiatives.
Under-motivated employees tend to become under performing employees and staff retention rates suffer accordingly. Poor economic conditions can exacerbate the situation by leading workers to believe success is not attainable or that their future with the company is limited or short-sighted. Improving motivation in the workforce and the corresponding staff retention can be accomplished through some relatively simple steps. First, take steps to communicate company goals and planning. This will demonstrate that employees have important roles in company success and future growth opportunities. As mentioned previously, good goal setting practices can also aid in motivation. Adding non-monetary benefits such as prizes for top performers or employee enrichment programs can also improve motivation and, thus, enhance staff retention.
Good Hiring and Training Practices
Another overlooked factor in poor staff retention is in the improper placement or lack of training for employees, leading to poor performance and short employment cycles. By hiring candidates well suited for positions and implementing quality training protocols employees can establish early and on-going success, which correspond directly staff retention rates.
The recession took its toll and you have high expectations for the next few years as a business owner. You sense your business is not as strong as it was in the past probably because to survive you made many painful business decisions. You are expecting to recoup lost wealth but you sense your organizational culture, dedication and engagement level of your staff has not rebounded like you expected. What are you going to do to get your team re-energized and engaged to generate profits again?
Maybe your team is more ready to win again than you think. Could their neutral attitude be a reflection of your neutral leadership? HOPE is not an HR Strategy, it’s time to lead your team to victory. Here are some back to basics tips to help you the Business Owner re-engage yourself and in turn re-engage your most valuable business asset – your people.
- Get up, get out of your office, and spend 80% of your time talking to the people running sales and your operation. That’s where the money is. Make sure they see that you’re re-energized and expecting to win, your attitude can be contagious.
- Fix your compensation systems once and for all. Strategic sales and operational performance matter more than ever. Are you driving profitable behaviours and driving wealth creation?
- Performance management matters. So do rewards. Don’t forget to recognize and reward the people who drive high performance and give you extra effort.
- Whatever happened to those KPI’s and performance records anyways. What gets measured gets done. Identify your “A” players and let them loose to create value. Identify you “C” players and send them packing, professionally and fairly. Your staff know who the weak links are and they are tired of carrying the extra load.
- Your employees need to know what you know. Tell them. Tell them again and Tell them you told them again. Everyone needs to understand what the boss is thinking and expects. You need to double and triple your communication and transparency efforts, staff will notice that the boss is engaged and energized.
- Pay a lot of attention to your top talent. If you don’t value them, your competitors who are also on the rebound and growing will want your stars. Treat your stars as partners or else start preparing for their departure.
- Let’s get innovative again and shake things up. Where did your entrepreneurial instincts go? Status quo will lead to obsolescence. Wake –up and create or spot opportunities.
- Is your HR team a wasted expense? This is the big leagues and you need superstar HR people who can create an HR strategy and execute the HR plan to attract, retain and reward the best and brightest. If you’re not getting HR excellence, bring in the ‘A’ team.
Don’t just HOPE 2012 is your year. Get engaged and lead your business.
“Turned on” people figure out how to beat the competition, “Turned off” people only complain about being beaten by the competition
- Ben Simonton
As the economy in Ontario slows down in 2012, a new dimension is being added to home working.
Some organizations are not in a position to raise pay, and since the beginning of the year an increasing number of headlines about pay freezes and reduced hours have become commonplace. However, many employees can be motivated by working from home. If offered to everyone, it can be a cost-effective way of retaining key talent and ensuring that levels of engagement remain high.
Working from home is not designed just for employees with family responsibilities; it can be just as effective for sports-minded individuals who want to be able to train or those with hobbies because it saves time. Telecommuting saves the cost and time of real commuting. Promoting working from home for all staff for at least one day a week can result in reduced overheads for employers. And there other benefits too:
- Increased productivity – employees may get distracted less. While they would be surrounded by the comforts of home and some may indeed be tempted to turn on the TV or play with their kids/pets, others may thrive away from the constant interruptions that exist in any office environment.
- Reduced absence – someone with a contagious illness such as a cold is less likely to infect colleagues.
- Cut the costs of premises – less space is needed, with fewer desks and chairs.
- Increased loyalty – creating a home working environment that fits with childcare or eldercare responsibilities is unlikely to be replicated elsewhere, thus minimizing the possibility of attrition.
- Slash the amount of time spent in meetings – a national law firm now holds meetings in Second Life, the social networking website.
- Eliminates geographic constraints - employers based in the less than attractive geographic locations of Ontario may encounter skills shortages, and offer home working to remove the need to live in the area.
- Extended vacations – providing the opportunity to work remotely in what may be a quiet time of year may lead to increased commitment in the future.
- Improved chance of parents returning to work – providing a genuine edge when seeking new recruits over the competition.
- Longer hours – employees may spend time working that they would normally spend commuting and there is the chance of optional overtime such as pregnant employees making up hours spent at ante-natal classes.
- Improved chance of attracting people with a disability – ensuring that the organization becomes a more diverse employer and more able to satisfy the needs of disabled clients or customers.
- Reduced carbon footprint – organizations that strive to be green can demonstrate their environmental credentials by reducing commuting and putting fewer vehicles on the road.
However it is important to consider the following issues:
- Managing people from a distance can be a challenge – it may be tempting to check up on home workers by telephone, email or a ‘drive-by’. However, these checks may end up leaving employees disenchanted with a process originally designed to engage. It may be wiser to invest in some remote time and attendance software, or programs that enable you to check what your remote workers are up to in a less intrusive manner.
- Trusting employees to undertake their work – certain cultural barriers may need to be overcome. Some workers won’t be used to the idea, and some roles may not be suited to it. People may interpret the move as a way of edging them out, whilst others may feel aggrieved if their colleagues enjoy the benefits of flexible working while they can’t.
- Managing employee’s output as opposed to input – judging people by quantifiable measures can be easier for a salesperson than a customer services executive, looking at what value they add rather than what hours they work.
- Respecting employee’s private time – lunch is still lunch.
- Work-life balance – burnout can still occur because the hours get blurred and some home workers end up working too hard, particularly at the moment when our clients report an increase in “presenteeism” even when workloads are reducing.
- Job insecurity – in these days of layoffs and downsizing home workers can feel vulnerable as they are not ‘in the line of fire’.
- Adopting different communication methods – it may be necessary to set up a webcam, broadband, Skype, data card for internet access etc.
- Data security – in our experience we recommend a virtual private network (VPN) that can’t be hacked, a hosted service, strong firewalls and software that encrypts the hard drive. While these services sound expensive, compare these costs to those that would be incurred if you lost your entire client list or information databases to hackers.
- Working hours and handbooks – contracts and handbooks may need to be amended, whilst timesheets may need to be provided if there is time and attendance software involved. Disciplinary rules around dress code and appearance may need to be revised.
- Job descriptions and person specifications – may need to be altered to reflect revised duties and responsibilities for home workers.
- Reward – should employees benefit from a subsidized restaurant, meal allowance or luncheon vouchers then a sum commensurate with the amount involved may need to be provided. A TTC or Metrolinx pass may need to be removed or amended. In addition, the figures involved with overtime or shift pay may need to be amended, as will the bonuses paid for team working where the home worker is no longer working as part of that team. A job evaluation may need to take place to ensure there are no issues around gradings and equal pay.
- Trade unions – home workers need to have equal rights in terms of union membership.
Certain individuals will not be able to adjust to home working. They miss the bouncing of ideas off others, ‘water cooler moments’ and may struggle with IT issues or motivation. One size does not fit all or all jobs, but making home working available is guaranteed to improve the employer’s attractiveness to both new and existing employees. To measure the effectiveness, consider an employee satisfaction survey that calculates the levels of absenteeism and attrition rate before and after its introduction.
In these testing, most organizations seek cost savings without really considering how their actions will affect their employer brand and reputation. Flexible working provisions can mean that you can save your team, department or organization a few dollars and simultaneously make you a more attractive place to work.
Brian Kreissl’s recent article “When non-HR professionals do HR work“ published on HRReporter.com is an insightful and timely look at a very old, but not widely-known, organizational truth: there’s no such thing as a company without HR.
HR is not the output of a department called HR, nor is it the product of people who have job titles that say HR in them. Rather, HR is at the foundation of an organization. It doesn’t disappear because it lacks a label. In other words: while organizations can have “no HR people,” and “no HR department,” they cannot have “no HR.”
Kreissl and I agree: cutting costs by bleeding HR budgets is simply bad strategy. Why? Because, again, HR isn’t a department or a person. It’s built into the organization itself. And so the tasks and responsibilities of HR don’t go away when HR budgets are cut. They’re merely shoveled off to people who almost without exception don’t know how to do it, don’t want to do it, and do a bad job of it when the finally forced to face it.
And the consequence? Unproductive, disengaged employees who end up costing an organization instead of moving it ahead. And we’re not just talking about one bad apple here. We’re talking the entire organizational workforce. So it’s more like a bad apple orchard.
Krissel’s bottom line is one that I echo as well: if non-HR professional are going to be tasked with performing HR functions, then it’s essential that they get the support and training they need from outside the organization. Not just for their sake or their employees’. But for the success of the organization as a whole.