An Absenteeism in the Middle East Workplace poll conducted by Bayt.com has shown that low job satisfaction and lack of responsibility are equally considered as reasons for employees to not attend work. The solution to this, according to 51% of poll respondents, is to reward regular attendance and punctuality.
Absenteeism is considered to be harmful to business by eight out of ten poll-takers (79.8%, of which 58.2% state it is very harmful), with decreased overall productivity being seen as the most costly side effect of employee absence (26.8%). Possible loss of business or dissatisfied customers (22.3%) and problems with employee morale (21.3%) are considered to be the next most pertinent issues.
When asked how often they take unplanned/unapproved days off work, 63.2% of poll-takers said that they do so very rarely; however 11.9% claim to do so once a month. Almost half of the respondents (47%) believe that the level of absenteeism at their company is low, with a further 47.2% stating that they manage to easily maintain a healthy work-life balance in their current role. Almost one in four (35.8%) say that although they do maintain a balance, it isn’t easy to do so.
Female employees are seen to be absent more often than their male counterparts by 42.6% of respondents. Similarly, more than half (50.2%) of respondents believe that senior employees take more unplanned leaves than anyone else.
The majority (58.2%) believe that management are treated preferentially when it comes to absenteeism; only 32% claim that everyone is treated equally.
“Employers state that there are significant knock-on effects to absenteeism, and yet our survey has shown that there are a considerable number of companies that do not follow through on consequences for employees consistently taking unplanned leaves. This suggests that stronger measures should be considered, to ensure overall profitability and smoother operational functions,” said Suhail Masri, VP of Sales, Bayt.com.
Six out of ten (62.4%) say that their companies track employee absenteeism through a specialised programme with strict policies. Despite this, a quarter of respondents (28.4%) say that their company tracks absenteeism, but no serious measures are ever taken.
A lack of responsibility and low job satisfaction ranked equally with 22.7% each as the main reason for absenteeism – conversely to the latter however, seven out of ten employees claim that their working environment is good to excellent. Other leading reasons were demotivation (12.1%), bad employee/manager relations (9.1%), home and family responsibilities (7.5%), and medical and health conditions (7.2%). Job stress and being overworked came in joint with 6% each.
More than half of the poll’s respondents (51%) state that recognising and rewarding regular and punctual attendance is the best way to lower rates of absenteeism. One fifth (18.5%) claim that a strict absenteeism policy will work, while 9% believe that educating employees on the costs of absenteeism will act as a deterrent.
Data for the Bayt.com Absenteeism in the Middle East Workplacepoll was collected online from May through June 2012, with 9,085 respondents covering more than 12 countries in the MENA region.
Before joining SME Advisor, I worked as a producer/reporter for Forbes Media in New York. I obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism and International Studies at the University of South Florida in the US. I am currently in Dubai working as Sub-Editor for SME Advisor Middle East, which is a business magazine published by CPI. You can follow me on Twitter: @joumanasaad or @SMEadvisorME and (Joumana Saad) or (SME Advisor) on LinkedIn.