The number of absentees at an average workplace might seem to be negligible, but if one does the maths its cumulative cost could turn out to be frightening.
Information from Occupational Care South Africa (OCSA) and Statistics South Africa says employee absenteeism costs the South African economy between 12 to 16 billion Rands annually.
In its Sicknotes without diagnosis report, OCSA recently stated that there is a clear link between employee health, productivity and absenteeism. It released the following chilling facts:
- On average, over 15% of staff could be absent on any given day.
- 2 out of 3 employees who fail to show up for work aren’t physically ill.
- Sleep disorders are ranked “top cause of lost work time”.
OCSA’s research shows that sleep disorders are one of the top causes of lost work time. Some researchers have pointed to modern lifestyle issues which include, too much light from electronic devices before bedtime, excessive caffeine, not enough time in bed and even too much light in bedrooms.
The artificial (or “blue”) light emitted by TVs, mobile phones and computers can disrupt the body’s preparation for sleep by stimulating daytime hormones and should be turned off at least an hour before bedtime.
“While you might feel the need to stay connected with work at all times and are reading emails in bed just before you go to sleep, it is actually making you less effective and creates a negative cycle,” says Lucy Le Roux, marketing manager for office design firm Paragon Interiors.
“What is concerning in the OCSA data is the high percentage of employee’s who appear to be falsifying illness. This points to a deeper problem of being unhappy at work or just not coping,” she says.
But measuring and recording absenteeism data means nothing unless businesses understand, monitor and actively intervene. Hence, staff feeling that senior management are sincerely interested in employee wellbeing is the top driver of engagement with obvious spin off’s for productivity and reducing absenteeism, Le Roux points out. “While helping to keep employees healthy may contribute to productivity and overall wellbeing, it also helps make the company more attractive to employees.”
A recent survey by global healthcare organisation Optum showed that 82% of employees working at companies with health and wellness programmes said these initiatives would encourage them to stay in their jobs longer.