By Mingee Kim

How much is employee absenteeism costing your construction company? More than you know. Unplanned absenteeism costs approximately $3,600 per year for hourly workers and nearly $2,650 for salaried workers.1

For the construction industry, that total is significant. In 2017, 2.3 percent of the 7,176,000 private sector construction workers were absent from work.2

These absences impact project completion, team productivity, increased labor costs, healthcare and workers’ compensation costs. Also, the cost of replacement employees and any lost incentives for early project completion can also hurt a construction firm’s bottom line.
Employee absenteeism impacts business in other ways, too. 

  • Increased safety risks 
  • Miscommunication among employees
  • Loss of productivity and increased work duties for present employees
  • Decreased customer satisfaction caused by late projects
  • Decrease in employee morale

Under-managing employee absenteeism creates compounded expenses, including but not limited to overtime paid, temporary staffing, employee turnover.  Consider these six best practices to reign in the impact of absenteeism.  

  1. Containing Employee Absenteeism -- Employees get injured or they get sick. While it’s an unavoidable part of conducting business, absenteeism can be contained. Employers can adopt a number of measures that can help reduce the impact of absent employees.
  2. Hire Wisely -- Believe it or not, many workplace injuries can be avoided by hiring the right employees. Screening to ensure candidates are able to perform specific duties that the job entails is an important step.
  3. Adopt/Enforce Attendance Policies -- A policy that outlines the employee’s responsibilities to report an absence, as well as the actions the employer may take if absenteeism becomes a problem protects the company from abuses. 
  4. Create a Better Work Culture -- Often, absenteeism is due to low morale or feeling overworked or underappreciated. Examine your company’s operations from the perspective of the employee. Is there enough staff to cover the project efficiently? Are there conflicts within teams? Are employees getting positive feedback when appropriate?
  5. Establish a Reward System – Rewards can be a powerful motivator, such as providing an extra paid day off for every two months of uninterrupted attendance.  Just be sure that a rewards policy like this does not create interference with any federal or state entitlements that the employee may be eligible. 
  6. Employ a Sound Return-to-Work Program -- When an employee does get injured or needs to be away from work, the best approach is to communicate with that employee regularly throughout the period of absence. Adopting a return-to-work program that keeps communication flowing and sets incremental goals can help get them back on the job quickly.

Employee absenteeism cannot be eliminated. However, construction firms can establish a number of practices that can improve productivity, job satisfaction, and reward employees for a job well done.

HUB International’s consultants are available to work with you in understanding how employee absenteeism impacts your risk posture today and in the future.