Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Absenteeism at Work

What's the link between absenteeism at work and stress? A person's psychological make-up along with external factors contributes towards an individual's stress level. A recent survey was conducted by benefits consultant Watson Wyatt Worldwide Inc. They surveyed 282 companies with at least 1000 employees and nearly half of these companies discovered a higher use of counseling and stress management services during this tough economy. And of these surveyed companies, 22 % have seen an increase in unplanned absences (Read the article here).

Clearly we can't control the economy and external factors that may cause stress to our employees, but we can have an awareness of our employees' psychological make-up and how they may respond to stress. Psychological assessments performed in the prescreening phase when seeking out potential employees gives us extra vital information. We will make judgments on where our candidates will perform best, what task they will handle well and where they may need improvement or extra guidance. Foreseeing potential stressful situations for our employees and preparing them accordingly or placing them where they are better suited may decrease health care costs and absenteeism in the workplace.

When we are physically and emotionally healthy, we can deal better with stress. Even prescreening candidates -- knowing what their psychological strengths and weaknesses are -- does not enable us to create a complete stress-free environment. In order to truly have healthy employees and thus a healthy company; we need to incorporate some kind of wellness program. A successful wellness program would target specific health goals of our employees. For example obesity is one main reason for health care costs increasing. Perhaps we could offer weight-loss challenges incorporating better eating habits and an exercise regime. Incentives could be exercise classes offered at convenient times or a fitness allowance at a local gym. We can also offer stress management classes and counseling services.

It's clear that stress affects our health and thus the work environment. If our goal is a healthy productive workplace, we must set the example through healthy balanced living and encouraging this behavior in our employees. Stress will decrease, absenteeism will decrease and health care costs should stabilize.

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