Headlines: September 1st, 2008

New research has shown that one of the key causes of the continued levels of absenteeism among workers in the public sector is the lack of resources and training given to managers to monitor the problem effectively and improve attendance levels.

The figures have been published by the Badenoch & Clark HR Recruiters Forum, a steering group including key Human Resources Directors from around the country. They show that six out of ten HR directors in the study believed management reluctance to tackle absenteeism was a major issue. The results also indicate that a lack of employee engagement is another key driver of absenteeism in the public sector, with 42 per cent of HR directors citing it as a significant cause.

Nicola Linkleter of Badenoch & Clark said absenteeism in the public sector was not a new issue but the figures highlighted significant reasons for it. “The worrying revelation here is that absenteeism seems to be tied closely with the need for consistent training of managers in how to approach the issue. That, of course, makes it a much more challenging issue to address as opinion and approach vary greatly across the sector,” she added.

Ms Linkleter said organisations taking on people with the tools and willingness to face up to the issue head on was a big first step towards dealing with the problem. She said dealing with the issue needed to go beyond the boundaries of management and to have the endorsement of all levels within an organisation. “Without board level involvement, line managers are often left to ignore the root problems that cause serial absenteeism, such as disillusionment or bullying,” she said and added, “Changing behaviours is not an easy task for any employer, but there are definite and clear ways to ensure a practical top-down approach emerges”.