WORK-LIFE BALANCE / APR. 24, 2015
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Millennials are the Most Stressed Out Group in the Labor Market

Absenteeism
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Employee absenteeism in the United States remains a prevalent issue in both the public and private sector. The cost to taxpayers is in the billions while the cost to employers is also in the billions. What is being done about it? Not much, say many human resource professionals.

See Also: How to Handle an Employee’s Attendance Problems

Absenteeism is defined as deliberate and intentional absence from work. Indeed, staff members are expected to have days off throughout the year because of illnesses, personal matters or appointments. However, habitual time off can lead to lost productivity, diminished revenues and a lack of competitiveness.

There are many reasons why personnel could regularly miss work, including office bullying, low company morale, depression, job hunting and childcare. Despite the reasons, whether justified or not, recurring absences are costing American businesses more than $84 billion per year, with professionals ($24.2 billion) and managers/executives ($15.7) taking a bulk of the enormous burden.

Moreover, employee absenteeism can lead to even greater issues within the company. Such as poor quality of goods or services because of understaffing, safety concerns and lower employee morale because they have to "fill in" for those who decided to take the day off.

For millennials, however, they may have a sound excuse for missing work: anxiety.

Millennials Taking Time Off Because of Anxiety 

According to a study conducted by Bensinger, DuPont & Associates, 30 percent of millennials reported to suffer from anxiety at the office, and this is one of the leading causes of absenteeism among this generation of workers. Therefore, the next time you discipline a millennial staffer you may have to consider the consequences: them not showing up the next day.

The report concluded that millennials were the most stressed out demographic in the labor market today. Moreover, they’re concerned about practicing presenteeism, a term to describe showing up to work while sick. The percentage of anxious individuals declined with each passing generation: 26 percent of Generation X professionals and 25 percent of Baby Boomer workers.

Study authors noted that there is a generational difference between millennials and Baby Boomers when it comes to workplace participation. They argued that Baby Boomers value showing up to work, even when you’re ill, more than millennials.  

“This data does not suggest Gen Y experiences the effects of anxiety more intensely than other generations, but that members of Gen Y may be more inclined to call in sick or take a day off when feeling anxious,” the report stated.

The researchers also cited a case from one female millennial, who stated: "I am anxious and not sleeping well. My relationship with my supervisor is not good and I have work related stress. I feel like my supervisor can be intimidating sometimes. I keep doubting myself about my work."

Businesses Not Taking Action 

As has been noted in numerous studies and articles, employee absenteeism is a significant factor to revenues. But are companies taking any sort of action? Aon Hewitt’s "2014 Health Care Survey" found that only 36 percent of private enterprises have measured the effects of absenteeism and put forward remedies to solve this issue.

Is your company suffering from extensive employee absenteeism? Here are five ways to reduce the effects of it:

  • Track and monitor workplace absences, whether through HR or by utilizing various online absence management tools like TrackSmart. 
  • Engage with staff members and understand what’s troubling them and what you can do to help them return to the office. 
  • When the employee seems stressed, initiate a plan to cut back on their workload. 
  • Mull over the cost-benefit of introducing an incentive plan to improve participation. 
  • Put forward a performance improvement plan in place to allow employees to get back on track and be a staff member that is an asset to the firm. 

Life happens. Sometimes, the stresses of life, the personal troubles that entrench our lives and the feelings of being burned out can make even the greatest of employees absent from work. The best way to solve such a corporate matter is to practice empathy, establish a clear absentee policy and to terminate those who take advantage of the system.

See Also: How to Deal with Excessive Absenteeism

Is there a big problem with absenteeism in your company? How is it handled, if at all? Your thoughts and comments below please...

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