What is Absenteeism? Its Effects and Consequences (How TrackoField Beats It)

What is Absenteeism Causes, Effects, and Solutions

Discover the root causes of absenteeism, its effects on operational productivity, and tips to reduce it for improved workflow and streamlined operations.

Employees take leave from work for a variety of reasons. However, when those leaves are too often, it leads to habitual absences or absenteeism. Consequently, it impacts the overall field job scheduling process and makes managers suffer from a shortage of staff, delayed task or service delivery, and cancelled appointments.

When managed strategically, absenteeism won’t no longer be a serious issue for businesses. So, before it gets out of hand, assess the vital reasons behind absenteeism, adopt some proactive field force management solutions that let you analyse these trends and alter your leave policies accordingly. This way, you will not only reduce the effects of absenteeism on your workplace but also ensure you have a highly performing and highly engaged staff.

What is Absenteeism?

Absenteeism refers to the habitual pattern of employees’ absences from the workplace. Several factors like occasional illnesses, personal problems, job dissatisfaction, etc. can cause it. However, the “Gallup’s State of the Global Workplace: 2022” report indicates that employees seek absences due to work stress levels. They don’t find their work meaningful, leading to absenteeism.

Despite these reasons, absenteeism leads to decreased employee productivity, disrupted project timelines, and escalated workload. Most workplaces calculate the frequent absences via the absenteeism rate. It is a key indicator that helps you assess to what extent absenteeism can occur. An excessive absenteeism rate can create problems, so you must ensure that it should be anything right around the 1.5% mark. However, it doesn’t mean a 2.5% absenteeism rate represents a warning signal.

Let’s look at the absence rates per occupation as reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Occupation  Absenteeism Rate
Building and grounds cleaning and maintenance occupations 4.1
Sales and related occupations 2.6
Administrative support occupations 3.8
Installation, maintenance, and repair occupations 2.7
Construction and extraction occupations 2.8

What is the Difference Between Absence and Absenteeism?

Most people interchange the term absence with absenteeism, ignoring the fact that there is a significant difference between them.

Notably, Absence means failure to attend or appear when expected at the agreed-upon location or time. It can be due to legitimate reasons like personal emergencies, pre-approved leaves, and illness.

Meanwhile, Absenteeism refers to not showing up for work frequently over a while with little or no explanation. It often implies chronic issues or underlying problems like job dissatisfaction and workplace stress.

Different Categories of Absenteeism in the Workplace

Not all types of absenteeism belong to the same category. By identifying the specific type of absenteeism you are dealing with, you can better prepare strategies to lower its effects on productivity. Look at the table to develop a quick understanding of absenteeism types.

Types of Absenteeism in the Workplace

Category #1: Planned or Approved Absenteeism

This includes all leaves that are scheduled, planned, and approved in advance such as vacation days, scheduled medical appointments, personal time off, etc.

Companies usually set their field employee attendance policy, containing the number of leaves and the timeframe for employees to obtain approvals against the requested leaves.

For instance, the attendance policy of several companies implies that employees must request leave at least 24 hours in advance, in accordance with company policies.

Category #2: Unplanned, Unscheduled, or Unexpected Absenteeism

Unexpected or unplanned days off typically involve leaves that are not scheduled in advance or pre-approved. Generally, employees take an unplanned leave when there is a physical or mental illness, personal emergency in their homes, or any other unforeseen circumstances.

Imagine, an employee named Rohit wakes up with severe flu symptoms and won’t be able to attend office and hence applies for an impromptu leave. This is an example of unplanned leave as Rohit didn’t anticipate falling ill and scheduled his leave in advance.

Category #3: Excessive or Chronic Absenteeism

Chronic or excessive absenteeism is when an employee is consistently away from the workplace without giving any prior notice. Strategic Human Resource Management (SHRM) defines this type as when there are “two or more occurrences of unexcused absence in a month.”

However, it’s up to individual employers as well to determine this category in their attendance policy. For instance, Case Western Reserve University states excessive absences in its attendance policy “More than 6 repeated unscheduled absences in 6 months, or 3 incidents of tardiness, or 2 events of partial absences.” 

More Stats on Absenteeism:

What are the Causes of Absenteeism?

Here are various factors that lead to absenteeism and impact employee engagement and operational productivity.

1. Family Emergencies and Childcare

Employees are often required to take time off to perform their responsibilities as a caregiver. Especially, when they receive family emergencies like childcare, unexpected emergencies, looking after a disabled or elderly family member, etc.

These are genuinely occasional as employees don’t abuse the availability for their time off and utilize it on something that matters. A report titled Caregiving in the US showed that employees spend 23.7 hours each week caring for their family members.

However, they may find balancing family and work responsibilities altogether challenging mainly in the workplace that does not support family-friendly policies. This leads to absenteeism and a drop in the employee productivity.

2. Job Hunting

Employees miss work when they have interviews to attend for new job opportunities. They may also spend their working hours searching for jobs online and submitting resumes. This only results in decreased operational productivity.

Here are some areas of dissatisfaction that influence employees to think of making of switch:

  • Job dissatisfaction
  • Lack of employee engagement
  • Limited scope for growth
  • No training programs
  • Insufficient compensation
  • Lack of rewards & recognition

3. Accidents and Injury

In 2021, BLS showed that accidents and injury are other drivers of absenteeism. They issued a report claiming 2.6 million workplace injuries happened in 2021 alone. Moreover, an Australian study, which is done among 13,582 revealed that high-risk drinkers are more likely to have accidents, illness, and injuries in the workplace.

CDC researched and brought in the main reasons for absenteeism are work-related injuries leading to absenteeism such as:

  • Slipping and falling due to slick floors.
  • Falling from height while working at the construction site.
  • Tripping over debris or trash on stairways.
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs due to repetitive motions.
  • Electrocution is when workers are exposed to dangerous power lines.
  • Getting heat stroke due to working out in extremely hot and humid climates.

Besides, prolonged standing/sitting, bad posture, excessive system noise, and heavy physical loads are other seeds, leading to physical exhaustion among workers and escalating the chance of workplace injuries.

4. Workplace Stress and Burnout

Burnout is the result of workplace stress or negative work culture. It occurs when employees work more excessively to meet targets, often to the detriment of their personal lives and health. They cannot keep a balance between their work and lives. Therein it causes a severe impact of absenteeism on employees’ mental and physical health.

Notably, Gallup’s study of 7500 employees will amaze you, bringing to mind what employees do when feeling overburdened, stressed, and burned out during their working hours.

  • 63% of employees prefer a sick leave.
  • 23% of employees visit the emergency room.
  • 2.6 times they think of leaving their current employer.
  • 13% of them show less confidence in their work performance.

All these are caused by poor work culture, but what are the main sources that make a company’s culture negative and poor? Let’s explore.

  • Excessive workload
  • Lack of enough resources or support
  • Limited decision-making power for employees
  • Unfair and biased treatment
  • Poor communication
  • Unclear job expectations and roles
  • Lack of job security/ company values

Moreover, researchers at Culture Shift found that 71% of 1,000 workers in the UK took sick leaves to prevent being in contact with a negative coworker. The same report also revealed that 61% of employees applied for prolonged leave to avoid discrimination, harassment, or bullying at their workplace.

5. Mental and Physical Health Issues

According to a report by BLS in January 2022, 7.8 million employees were away from their workplace due to medical problems like injury or illness. Additionally, 4.2 million full-time workers work part-time due to medical problems, appointments, or illness.

Another study demonstrated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) showed that the top five chronic diseases, leading to absenteeism are:

  • Hypertension
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity

Besides, the World Health Organization (WHO) in its report mentioned that depression and anxiety lead to a loss of 12 billion workdays each year. Also, the American Institute of Stress revealed that 83% of U.S. workers have work-related stress and 1 million workers don’t show up for work due to stress.

That’s not it!

One more study claims that depression alone can lead to lost productivity and cost companies around $44 billion per year. Moreover, 40% of employees have complained that their companies did not provide adequate policies to address mental health issues.

What are the Major Consequences of Absenteeism in the Workplace?

It is true that absenteeism is not good for an organization’s health. But what makes it so influential? And why is it something that companies have to deal with precautions? Let’s learn some major consequences of absenteeism that directly impact the workplace.

Consequences of Absenteeism in the Workplace

1. Lower Workplace Morale

When employees feel undervalued, underpaid, or overworked, they tend to skip their work schedules. This creates an endless cycle of employee absenteeism and decreased morale. Moreover, it heightens when the company does not care about its employees.

2. Declined Productivity

Usually, companies assign the work not performed by the absent employees to their available workforce. This adds workload and burden to the existing employees. Also, frequent absences lead to a decline in overall productivity as evidenced by the stats, “the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that absenteeism costs employers $225.8 billion annually in productivity losses.”

Look at the table below to explore more.

Productivity loss due to employee absences

3. Increased Administration Cost

Companies replace their employees who take repetitive, prolonged, and excessive absences by hiring newer ones. This affects administrative costs, time, and money as they bear the cost of interviewing, hiring, and training their employees. According to a study by Circadian, absenteeism costs employers $3600 per hour per employee each year.

4. Reduced Output

Absenteeism can also disrupt communication and hinder the flow of knowledge transmission for service delivery within teams. For instance, if a manager who is obliged to make job schedules and dispatch their employees, misses the office, all further tasks get affected. Employees may not be present at their supposed task locations and this could lead to suboptimal outcomes. Over time, this could bring a downward spiral affecting the workplace’s ethics and output.

Top Ways to Fix Absenteeism and Improve Workplace Productivity

After learning a lot about absenteeism, its types, causes, and consequences, it’s time to dive deep and learn ways to prevent it from happening in the workplace.

Strategies to Prevent Absenteeism in Your Workplace

1. Identify Patterns of Absenteeism

It is essential to identify what reasons are causing absenteeism. However, you need a consolidated platform to do that. Because, obviously, you may not want to juggle a plethora of systems to accumulate and analyze all employees’ attendance data to detect absenteeism patterns.

That’s why keeping the attendance management software is essential. The software meticulously feeds employees’ attendance, leaves, overtime, breaks, late arrival, early departure, etc. Thus, letting managers get accurate insights into patterns of absenteeism like how repeatedly their executives are absent from the office on certain days or seasons. Accordingly, they can adjust their leave policies to prevent employees from taking unnecessary leaves.

2. Facilitate Employee Engagement

Employee engagement shapes a positive work environment. Even Dr, John G. Turner in his research paper, mentioned that a work environment where employees are engaged has less absenteeism.

However, not all employees may use the same communication platform to converse about meetings and task-related updates. This leads to a siloed and fragmented workflow. For instance, if one employee is using WhatsApp and the other one is using Skype – it may corrode the processes.

That’s why you must use the best field employee monitoring software. The software, being equipped with an in-app communication tool lets you streamline the effective communication between team members. Upon accessing the tool, employees can have real-time conversations on products or task-related inquiries via voice chat. Moreover, they can attach files and documents that need to be verified by managers.

Employee Engagement Trend Graph

3. Encourage Health and Wellness

Work stress often leads to the risk of chronic diseases, affecting employees’ health and wellness. So, try implementing some wellness programs that address employees’ well-being. Besides, you can adjust your employees’ job schedules in a way that doesn’t choke their bandwidth or set it during hours when the temperature isn’t too intense to bear. This will prevent your employees from being exposed to heat waves and stay protected.

However, on-the-spot changes with manual scheduling seem challenging. So, you must switch to our smart field job scheduling software. The software is designed to simplify the job scheduling procedure with its in-built templates. The cloud-based platform also synchronizes with employee time-tracking software, letting managers assess employee availability and time-off requests. Therein, it enables them to add and amend schedules for their employees easily.

4. Implement Supportive Policies

As previously mentioned, employees take urgent leave due to unforeseen circumstances, maybe like family emergencies. So, try to implement a work-family and supportive policy. This will provide your employees with the adequate support they need while conducting their caregiving duties. As a result, this makes them feel important and prevents them from making a switch.

However, don’t overburden yourself while using spreadsheets to amend the entire leave policies. Just, use the best leave management software that covers:

  • Instant leave application and approval process
  • Leave policy setup
  • Leave transactions tracking
  • Leave summary report

With the software in place, you can also specify no. of leaves, types of leaves, and each employee’s leave balance in a few clicks. Looking for one such software that provides the benefit of policy enforcement? Try TrackoField for free and streamline the leave management process with its:

  • Admin software for HR managers
  • Leave portal app for employees’ self-service

5. Address Safety Concerns

Employees show up more actively in jobs where their safety and well-being are recognised and valued. Any moment when they feel their safety is compromised and there are a series of fatal events while working in risky sites, this can trigger their constant absences.

Therefore, panic or SOS buttons are a crucial tool in ensuring workplace safety. These buttons are built into field service mobile apps like TrackoField. When activated, the button sends a distress signal to field managers, notifying them about the emergency.

SOS buttons allow responders to locate the exact location of the distress signal and employees. Very helpful for industries whose employees operate on-field as service technicians, medical or sales reps., or labor in risky construction or mining sites.

This proactive approach may look small, but you cannot imagine how deeply this will make your employees feel valued and cared for.

6. Provide Training Opportunities

Training programs help employees take on more responsibilities in an organization and move into higher roles. That’s why employees prefer to work in a company that provides career advancement programs. As employees are polished with improved skills, this creates a sense of commitment and loyalty among them towards the organization. Moreover, they will learn to make good and safe use of the company’s tools and equipment, leading to minimal damages and low wastage.

But, before training, you need to assess each employee’s productivity level. However, it is quite challenging when your field employees are scattered and there is no other way to track their movements, activities, and productivity on the site.

Don’t worry! Switching to an all-encompassing field employee tracking software can help. The software lets you know what your employees do during their working hours via distance traveled and target vs. achievement reports. Therein, you can identify employees whose productivity isn’t up to par and accordingly arrange some training programs for them.

How Can TrackoField Help You Reduce Absenteeism?

Leveraging the features inside TrackoField’s time-tracking software helps you prevent absenteeism and reduce its impact on your operational productivity:

1. Real-time employee tracking

This feature provides you with a complete insight into employees’ live location, task progress, and timeline for each completed task. Thus, letting you identify which employees are actively participating in the assigned tasks. You can even identify which employees are taking more unscheduled stops and are missing assigned tasks or reaching task sites late. Reviewing such small instances can help you know when employees are disinterested and might be on the verge of disappearing from work.

2. Robust attendance and leave management system

This is yet another feature that you can streamline to sail against the storm of absenteeism smoothly. Being equipped with geocoded attendance marking, the feature lets you prevent buddy punching, extended breaks, and time theft. Thus, warding off employees from being absent from their duties. Also, it has a flexible leave management module consisting of reliable data on employees’ leaves. Managers, upon analyzing the data can detect employees with higher leave rates. Consequently, you can take appropriate actions to stop them from taking the next leaves.

3. Optimal Job and Task Scheduling

You can optimally plan, create, and assign tasks to your employees by using TrackoField. The software lets you get an overview of the complete workforce. Thus, helping you distribute tasks to each employee fairly and reduce conflicts related to scheduling. You can also assign the right shift to the right employee as per their availability, task status, and location. Moreover, you can use shift templates to fill in time and days for employees’ tasks to cut down on filling the schedules manually.

That’s not it!

But, you will find more on TrackoField’s time tracking software. Ensure to get in touch with our experts on our panel to know more.

Identify patterns of Absenteeism in just a few clicks

To Sum it Up!

This is the nuts and bolts of absenteeism and how you can reduce it with the time tracking software or strategies mentioned above. However, if you want to learn more about how the software minimizes absenteeism and its associated consequences, sign up to use TrackoField for free.


  • What are the different types of absenteeism?

    Here are all the different types of absenteeism.
    - Planned or approved absenteeism
    - Unplanned, unexpected, or unscheduled absenteeism
    - Excessive or chronic absenteeism

  • What causes absenteeism?

    Here is a complete breakdown of the causes that lead to absenteeism:
    - Family emergencies and childcare
    - Job hunting
    - Accidents and injury
    - Workplace stress and burnout
    - Mental and physical health

  • What is the impact of absenteeism?

    Absenteeism can impact your business in a lot more ways. However, the most common impacts are reduced output, increased administration costs, lower workplace morale, and declined productivity.

  • What are the strategies to deal with absenteeism?

    Implementing these strategies will help you prevent absenteeism from taking place:
    - Encourage health and wellness
    - Add supportive policies
    - Address safety concerns
    - Facilitate employee engagement
    - Providing training opportunities
    - Identify patterns of absenteeism

What is Absenteeism? Its Effects and Consequences (How TrackoField Beats It)

Shivani Singh

Shivani is a Content Writer at TrackoBit. She loves to dance to the tunes of words. And when she is not entertaining herself with write-ups, you will find her jumping on the bandwagon of social media and creating captivating content.

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