Absence Culture Vs Absence Policy

Absenteeism is widespread in almost all sectors of a given economy. By and large, it is taken as hampering competitiveness, profitability as well as productivity. Often, it brings about overtime, dissatisfied clients, late deliveries, and injures staff morale among the employees expected to take up the duties of their absent colleagues. In due course, absenteeism affects organizations’ profitability adversely, with the related direct costs being exceeded by the related indirect costs (Jex & Britt, 2008). This paper demonstrates that absence policies, unlike the absence culture, are unlikely to stem employee absence. Many organisations remain bedeviled by staff absence despite having many well thought out, as well as clear, absence policies. Organisations are better served by developing the absence culture than putting in place absence policies. The absence culture helps manage staff absence proactively. It is essential in eradicating staff absence successfully.
Absence policies confer on organisations fewer benefits than the absence culture largely because of the considerable challenges that define the implementation of the former. Many organisations have developed well thought out and well planned absence policies, which unfortunately, are likely to fail to achieve the desired low levels of staff absence (Towers, 2004). The policies are likely to fail even when they are communicated to the targeted staff members persistently. Often, the implementation of the policies is challenging owing to organizations’ dependence on their line managers for the policies’ implementation. As well, organisations are highly dependent on the managers for the policies’ tracking as well ownership (Jex & Britt, 2008). As expected, the busy line managers find the role rather inconveniencing owing to their busy work plans. As well, they find the role inconveniencing as it is often not one of their principal performance indicators or key responsibilities. The line managers are usually not incentivized to focus on the role. Consequently, they rarely take action before staff absenteeism levels get out of hand.
Absence policies are unlikely to bring down staff absence rates as much as the absence culture does owing to other reasons. First, the policies and the related processes are often inconsistent, meaning that varied managers implement them in varied ways. Second, the manual tracking of staff absence is challenging. Consequently, many managers lack the enthusiasm to embark on it. They are likely to prioritize other tasks than the manual tracking of staff absence. Third, when organisations fail to track the implementation of their absence policies the rates of absence go up almost invariably. Fourth, in most organisations, senior managers are likely to be disengaged from the implementation of the policies.
Absence policies have varied downsides. Many employees are likely to find the implementation of the policies demeaning as they see them fit for very young, irresponsible persons. That is especially so when they suffer reprimands for staying away from their workstations. The reprimands are likely to bring about resentment. If organisations have absence policies that provide for the punishing of the staff who keep away from work but fail to provide for the rewarding of those posting commendable attendance rates, their employees are likely to view them as practicing double standards. As noted earlier, there are considerable challenges in the enforcement of the policies. Over and over again, the implementation of the policies is challenging owing to organizations’ dependence on their line managers for the policies’ implementation (Towers, 2004). Additionally, organisations are highly dependent on the managers for the policies’ tracking as well ownership. True to form, the busy line managers find the role rather inconveniencing owing to their busy work plans. As well, the implementation of the policies is defined by limited or no flexibility. The implementers of the policies are likely to fail to consider the many factors that define working adults’ lives, including sickness of loved ones, which can alter the adults’ schedules (Jex & Britt, 2008).
Even then, absence policies have various strengths over the absence culture. First, the implementation of the policies helps organisations in their allocation of their human resources in ways that are efficient (Towers, 2004). Second, the policies are rather effective in controlling costs since staff members who keep away from work cost their employers money. Third, the policies foster a sense of fairness: employees are unlikely to be asked to stand in for colleagues who absent themselves unjustifiably.
Even then, the absence culture has various strengths over the absence policies. The culture promotes staff wellbeing as employees have the confidence, as well as flexibility, to balance their individual and family needs devoid of worrying about finances or even work. Organisations that have the absence culture show a commitment to their staff members’ wellbeing and also bolster their engagement levels. Besides, the culture supports talent acquisition, demonstrating cutting edge ways of managing benefits (Jex & Britt, 2008). However, some employees may be tempted to abuse the culture, impacting on organizations’ profitability adversely.
By and large, practicing an absence culture confers more benefits to organisations than practicing an absence policy. Many organisations remain bedeviled by staff absence despite having many well thought out, as well as clear, absence policies. Absence policies confer on organisations fewer benefits than the absence culture largely because of the considerable challenges that define the implementation of the former. In most organisations, senior managers are likely to be disengaged from the implementation of the policies. The absence culture promotes staff wellbeing and allows organisations to show a commitment to the wellbeing.

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