Rewards and recognition can keep absenteeism at bay

Missed workdays have a profound financial impact on a company's bottom line. It is beneficial for businesses to implement strategies to monitor, reduce and respond to absenteeism.


With the work environment becoming increasingly competitive and with rising workloads, smaller paychecks and seasonal virals, it’s not surprising to see so many employees getting tempted to hit snooze and call in sick. In 1985, a survey was conducted in which 60 per cent of the participating companies acknowledged that absenteeism is one of the most severe discipline issues. In 2017, the US Department of Labour (DOL) estimated that almost three per cent of the workforce is absent in a company on any given day. Since the dawn of industrialisation, there have been various programmes to manage and control absenteeism, and myriad studies have been undertaken on the subject too. However, a holistic solution remains elusive.

What is absenteeism, and what causes it?

Absenteeism is generally referred to as the employee’s intentional and sometimes habitual absence from work. While employers give their workers a certain number of days off each year, excessive absences can also mean decreased productivity and can critically drain the Company’s finances, morale and other factors. Here are some of the causes of absenteeism:

1. Burnout, stress and low morale — Too much workload, stressful meetings and feelings of being unappreciated are some of the common causes of absenteeism. However, personal stress, anxiety, and stressors outside work can also lead to absenteeism.

2. Disengagement — Disengaged employees are those who are not committed to their jobs, colleagues and the company. Such people are chronic absentees as they have no motivation to work.

3. Illnesses and injuries — Illness, injury and other medical appointments are the most common reasons for missing work.

4. Job hunting — When employees are not satisfied with their jobs and are looking for a change, they call in sick so that they can attend job interviews or work on their resumes/CVs.

Ways in which rewards and recognition can help

1. Engage employees on a deeper level: Keeping employees happy constantly is not an easy job. A gamified rewards platform can engage employees in a more sophisticated, streamlined and fun way. You can create milestones and give reward points for achievements. The points can be redeemed in the form of various services and experiences. Such programmes will make employees more enthusiastic, and excited to come to work and fill them with the sense of always wanting more.

2. Reward good attendance: Rewards and recognition can help you teach your employees positive behaviour. Here, the positive behaviour is loyalty, ownership and attendance. A good rewards programme will not only reward your employees for good attendance but also inspire other employees to do the same too (to get rewarded).

3. De-stress: When tension is high, and motivation is low, gift your employees self-care, wellness and spa vouchers. Your employees will not only appreciate the gesture but also return to work with a happy and clear mind.

4. Design fitness campaign: To make your employees more aware of their and fitness, reward programmes can help organisations design fitness challenges. With the victory of each challenge, they can get reward points. Employees can then use these points to redeem experiences, activity vouchers and apparels related to fitness.


Cost of absenteeism for any company is huge. There is a loss of productivity, wages, poor quality of goods/services and a total waste of management time. Even the people who show up for work are overburdened with duties and responsibilities to fill in for absent employees. Occasional absences are inevitable because employees are, in the end, all human beings. They may fall sick, get injured, have responsibilities outside work, and need space to handle personal affairs. It is the frequent absence from work that is most challenging for employers, as this can have an adverse effect on co-workers. Also, missed workdays have a profound financial impact on a company’s bottom line. Hence, it is more beneficial for businesses to implement strategies to monitor, reduce and respond to absenteeism.

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