Bueller? Bueller? How Much Do Absent Workers Cost Employers?

Posted on: June 10th, 2015 by New Benefits Blog

Marti Powles COOI’m assuming most of you have seen the 1980’s classic, “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.” In this popular movie, the mischievous main character feigns illness to skip high school and enjoy an epic day off with his girlfriend and best friend. (Ever wonder how many absent employees are pulling a Ferris?)

We all know absenteeism negatively impacts a company’s bottom line—whether the absent employee is legitimately ill, taking care of a sick child, suffering from job burnout or just playing hooky. In fact, when you consider both the direct and indirect expenses, the total cost of paid time off in the U.S. adds up to more than 20% of payroll [1]. To add insult to injury, absenteeism leads to countless other issues, including increased workload, higher stress, disruption in work for others, a drop in morale and lower quality of work.

However, there’s an even more dangerous contagion spreading across the corporate world: presenteeism. This is the term used to describe when employees continue to come to work while they’re suffering from illness or dealing with legal, financial or insurance issues. Although physically present, these employees are so distracted and “out of it,” their productivity level is at rock bottom.

Although the numbers aren’t in just yet, presenteeism may be even more costly to businesses than absenteeism. In fact, some employers believe presenteeism results in about four times more in hours lost. To make matters worse, a Gallup poll [2] shows 24% of workers are actively disengaged—another form of presenteeism.

An ounce of prevention 

When it comes to battling absenteeism and presenteeism, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. One way employers can proactively combat these issues is by offering employees non-insured benefits, such as Telehealth, Doctors OnlineRoadside Assistance, Legal Services, Health Advocate and ID Theft Protection. All of these helpful benefits offer solutions to workers who may otherwise take the day off to see the doctor or deal with personal issues—or even worse, show up to work sick or distracted.

For example, Telehealth and Doctors Online prevent absenteeism by providing employees with 24/7 access to medical care. I personally have used Telehealth many times to get a diagnosis and prescription for my son after hours. This benefit has saved me from missing quite a few days of work.

ID Theft Protection is another way to combat absenteeism. Employees who are victims of identity theft often take time off of work to deal with their issue—or they’ll show up at the office and deal with the issue during work hours. With an identity theft protection benefit, employees have the professional recovery assistance they need to handle their problem in an effective and timely manner.

It’s time to take a stand against two of the most dangerous epidemics in today’s corporate world: absenteeism and presenteeism. As a broker, you can help employers fight these issues through the use of non-insured benefits.

[1] According to the Total Financial Impact of Employee Absences Survey by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM)

[2] According to Gallup’s State of the Global Workplace report. The report highlights findings from Gallup’s ongoing study of workplaces in more than 140 countries from 2011 through 2012.

–Marti Powles, COO

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