As part of the Clothing & Textiles Performance Improvement Projects in the Cape and in KZN, PSA have been conducting workshops around Managing Absenteeism, Late-coming & Retention – 3 critical HR issues, particularly to the Clothing & Textiles industry.
Data gathered thus far has shown absenteeism to range from 3,3% and 14,6%. All firms participating in the Cape project have committed themselves to targets of between 3.5% – 4%, while workshops in KZN, where targets will be set, are still to be held.
Says Geoff Schreiner, Director PSA,
“Most studies indicate that there are three critical elements to reducing absenteeism: collection of sound data, constant analysis of trends (proactive management) and rigorous return-to-work counselling and procedures.”
There appear to be two approaches to measuring absenteeism according to Schreiner, “Minutes lost (including late coming) as a percentage of total available minutes or Days lost as a percentage of total days available.”
“What’s not measured, or course, is ‘in-plant’ absenteeism– people who are there in body, but with their mind on other matters,” he says.
Schreiner reports, “The most common reason given for absenteeism due to illness in this industry is back problems, followed by flu, then gastro and then surgery.”
Firms participating in the project claim strategies for mitigating absenteeism that have worked include having a clinic, doctor and social worker accessible in-company; putting a focus on absenteeism ; treating genuine absenteeism compassionately; recognition/rewards for low absenteeism employees; having rules (policy and procedures) that apply to everybody which are applied fairly and consistently; production incentives which have absenteeism as a qualifier; rigorous ‘return to work‘ counseling sessions; collecting good data – analyzing and proactively acting it; management of absenteeism on a small group/team basis; support and buy-in from union shop stewards
Says Schreiner, “Late-coming should be measured and managed in the same way.”
“Transport has a major impact on late coming,” says Schreiner. “One of the participating firms has started tracking all transport problems on a daily basis and is compiling detailed data which it intends submitting to Metrorail and Golden Arrow busses in an effort to improve timekeeping.”
Schreiner confirms that in June the Cape Clothing Association (CCA) and SACTWU will be approached with the data collected through the project and requested to take the issue up with the relevant authorities. “CCA and SACTWU can contribute to retention issues by looking at the rules of Provident Fund & UIF to discourage resignation to collect benefits. Companies on the other hand should focus on conducting effective exit interviews to establish trends; ensuring personal development plans are in place, for key employees in particular; providing effective employee assistance programmes; Improving people management skills at line manager/supervisor level; multi-skilling and recognizing skills developed.” Schreiner stresses though that the most significant impact on absenteeism has been through introducing productivity incentives for employees and making making loan arrangements available to employees.