Absence Culture VS. Absence Policy in employee health care policy

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The health status of workers has recently been carefully weighed to be the matter of an individual and the absence of employees has been viewed as irrepressible. The reviews gathered by employees however have turned out to be queries on whether or not employees’ absence should be controlled or absence managed. Many organizations have decided to downsize employees so as to increase efficiency and maintain competiveness. This means that the remaining employees are highly rated as an individual’s absence can result in delay, lost opportunities, lost production, effectiveness and efficiency (Martocchio, 1994). The absence costs have risen and this can be due to the labor legislations that require for statutory sick pays. Reduction of absence can lead to high potential savings. This can be achieved by;

Placing more emphasis on attendance data collection, analysis and benchmarking

Adopting positive attendance management strategies and other preventive measures

Linking employee attendance to either pay enhancements for outstanding performance and sanctions for absence.

Absence management can be best conducted in cases where mutual trust is established between the employers and employees which includes the incorporation of understandable and fair policies and processes for illness and absence. There are various types of absence i.e.

Short-term sickness absence (payments are made by the insurer through sponsored programs)

Causal absence ( there is a limited predefined number of consecutive days an employee can miss from their duties and responsibilities)

Unauthorized absences including lateness

Authorized absences i.e. maternity, educational, unpaid leaves etc..

In most cases there is a possibility that a culture of absence has been created due to poor attendance management policies or the knowledge that employees can get away with unauthorized absence. Some employees believe that it is normal for the employees to include a given rate of abseintism per annum. However a culture of good attendance can be developed through clear communication of the attendance policy to employees and development of a discussion and feedback platform through periodical staff briefings. An absence policy is the official documented expectations, guidelines and consequences on employee abseintism. Unauthorized absence is controlled by the policy guidelines and tough punishments should be set to discourage the employee absence (Martocchio, 1994). However on the other hand, the issue of employees being forced to attend to their duties even in grave cases of illness might raise concerns since an employee may be motivated on making perfect attendance records at the expense of their health and this may be detrimental in the long term. In addition to this, ill employees may risk the health of other employees in cases where the illness may be infectious. Hence for this reasons a balance that benefits both the organizational management and the employees can be reached without compromising the productivity or efficiency of the organization.

One of the main advantages of absence culture is the general lower levels of stress since the attitude surrounding absenteeism is comparatively lower as indicated in scenario 1A. On the other hand this advantage can turn to be a disadvantages in cases where the employees may feel anything that is not happiness. The main con of the absence culture is the wrongful empowerment of employees hence leading to lack of attendance while citing unjust reasoning’s as seen in scenario 1B. Feeling tired is not a justified reason for employees to miss work and this should be sanctioned to discourage similar cases in the future.

The main advantage of an absence policy is the likelihood of improving the average attendance rates in comparison to competing organizations as seen in scenario 2A. However higher rates of attendance doesn’t correlate to higher functioning capacities since employees can be physically present but be unproductive. The organization should evaluate the psychological consequences of enforcing strict rules or regards as this stress can result in performance lapses.

The two available options present their own pros and cons but from my own point of view I’d rather choose absence policy over an absence culture. This is primarily because it is simpler to develop and manage parameters regulating the policies as this could change the employee’s opinion on absenteeism as seen in scenario 1. It is better to prevent than cure and the absence policy is best suited for accustoming employees to these situations and the consequential outcomes. Varied outcomes or situations on the other hand can potentially back fire. Changing an organization from system of managing attendance from absence culture to absence policy can lead to the losing of key employees. In the situation whereby smaller parameters are added incrementally to the absence policy hen little resistance or defiance is expected from employees since the views and attitudes towards absence from duty will still be consistent with the earlier organizational practices (Gray, 2012). The challenges presented by the absence culture can be resolved by changing the organizational culture to develop a new culture of evaluated attendance management besides using of incentives to give the employees a reason to employ best attendance practices.


Gray, R. (2012). Employee absence can be a key factor of staff disengagement. Retrieved from http://www.hrmagazine.co.uk/article-details/employee-absence-can-be-a-key-factor-of-staff-disengagement

Martocchio, J. (1994). The Effects of Absence Culture on Individual Absence. Retrieved from http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/001872679404700301

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