No doubt, most of the reasons were genuine, especially concerning health and childcare. It could be anything: cold, flu, stomach ailments, food poisoning, emotional stress and personal problems resulting in headaches and migraines, jobs sans excitement resulting in backaches, childcare, family sickness, emotional difficulties, parental health, marital problems etc. Tracing absenteeism and finding solutions could be a bit complicated than expected, because some of the companies are more interested in eliminating paper work than keeping its records. Examining absenteeism, its costs, and its causes depending on its effects on economy and psychology of work has been difficult. Retaining business agility and striking a balance with absenteeism has been a tough task for Human Resources.
According to Times headline, Royal Mail, highly crippled by absenteeism, begged its workers to 'come to work to win a holiday2.' "Subsequently, British Airways confessed that absenteeism was costing it around 60 million a year3". This paper also informs that "In fact, there will never be a definitive 'solution' to absenteeism. However, the issue can be managed by thinking about the demands that managers make on workers and by clarity and consistency of policy, as opposed to panics and crack-downs4".
There is no instant remedy for absence, even though most of the causes remain the same over centuries with very little variance. Surprisingly the causes of absence in modern society are almost similar to those decades ago. They could be anything, economic, social, psychological, health, and situational. Absence from work is a recurring situation that has to be constantly managed to improve productivity, reduce resultant costs, and maintain a suitable corporate culture.
"Absenteeism is one of the most persistent obstacles to productivity, profitability and competitiveness. It causes overtime, late deliveries, dissatisfied customers and a decline in employee morale amongst workers who are expected to cover for an absent employee" http://www.softworks-computing.com/absenteeism.html
Some costs of absenteeism implicit and some are explicit. They also depend on the activity, productivity scale, size and economic and social significance of the organisation. Absence does not affect all organisations in the same way. At the same time, causes could be connected with the individual organisation, while most of them being universal and similar.
"Absenteeeism affects, in domino fashion, such intangible as employee morale, discipline, and job satisfaction, which, in turn, increase labor turnover and reduce worker productivity, thereby reducing product quality and making production scheduling more difficult," Dilts et al (1985, p.21).
These affects are neither direct, nor clearly visible; but their existence cannot be doubted. Finding job replacements at very short notice and taking an unsuitable and inexperienced replacement can cause employee resentment being unable to cope up with the demands of new circumstances and unfamiliar tasks. So in a way it spreads a kind of discontentment all around and when a person is on an absence spree, other workers would be apprehensive of being asked to serve as standbys.
Discipline could be affected by constant absenteeism causing carelessness in replacements and other regulars, because they tend to take it as doing a favour to management. If absentee workers are