SMALL companies have a much lower absenteeism rate than large companies, according to the absenteeism management report issued recently by absenteeism management specialists AIC Insurance. The report studies more than 7000 employees in 60 South African companies, ranging in size from 20 to 1000 employees.
Small companies with 75 employees or lower had the lowest rate of absenteeism. These companies experienced on average four sick days an employee a year. This absenteeism rate climbed as employees numbers increased.
Medium-sized companies of up to 500 employees had a similar absenteeism rate to larger companies (500 employees or more). Such companies experienced on average seven sick days an employee a year.
AIC Insurance CEO Johnny Johnson says there were several reasons why smaller companies had a lower rate of absenteeism. “In most cases the small business owner will have a closer relationship with the employees. Employers will then have a good understanding of personal problems and other matters, which may affect employee attendance and will most likely assist with solving these with the employee.”
Johnson says that in a small business, the loss of even one employee has a high impact on the business.
The owners will almost always insist that they be notified as soon as the employee is aware that he-she will not be at work. This makes planning for the absence easier and lowers the impact on the business.
“When an employee returns to work, it is likely that the owner will meet with the employee to establish why they were ill. This creates an environment where employees are less inclined to be away from work for minor reasons and they feel more responsible. If an employee who is part of a small team is off work then they may feel that they are letting the team down,” he says.
Large firms should strive to replicate the above, which occurs in a small business naturally. This can be achieved by empowering the foreman and supervisors to take responsibility for their departments and to take ownership of their areas.
“The establishment of Employee Assistance Programmes in large organisations, notification of absence policies and return to work procedures after an illness, will assist with achieving that objective.
Johnson says the culture and management style of a large organisation sometimes affects attitude towards absenteeism and management.
“In some large organisations the HR departments are given the responsibility of managing absenteeism whereas it should ideally be the responsibility of the line managers.”
– Real Business Reporter\t19 July 2005