15 eye-opening employee attendance statistics you must know

by Time Doctor
employee attendance statistics

Perfect employee attendance may be unattainable, but good attendance isn’t. 

While companies are often focused on implementing stricter policies, the following 15 employee attendance statistics will show how that tends to backfire. You’ll also learn which strategies work and how to keep them going. 

If your company faces attendance issues, we’ll suggest three easy ways to improve it and even recommend an amazing tool to help track employee absences. 

This article includes: 

(Click on the links to jump to a specific section)

Let’s begin. 

15 employee attendance statistics you need to know 

While a single absent employee is unlikely to derail operations, too many at one go definitely can. 

Here are some statistics showing how employee absenteeism and its costs have more to do with the company than the individual. 

You can use this data to address employee issues like poor attendance and implement policies that support your employees. 

1. Positive results of remote work 

Let’s start with research into something that we all faced: the pandemic and subsequent remote work boom. 

A) Occupations with high remote work availability experienced lower rates of employee absence (CDA, 2021)

The Council for Disability Awareness (CDA) research shows that remote work availability significantly lowers employee absenteeism

This report is based on data gathered by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics regarding employee absences before and during the pandemic. 

The CDA found that while sickness absence shot up during the pandemic, employees with telework facilities displayed lower-than-average increases. 

The research lends credibility to what employees have been experiencing – remote work flexibility helps reduce stress. This has a direct positive impact on employee health, leading to lowered unscheduled absenteeism.

B) 23% of full-time employees are willing to take a pay cut of over 10% and forfeit benefits to work from home (Owl Labs & GoodHire, 2021)

Companies have traditionally offered benefits such as ample Paid Time Off (PTO), medical insurance, gym memberships, etc., as incentives. 

But the current data shows employees have realized that remote work is more beneficial for their physical and mental well-being. 

Job seekers are also turning down lucrative offers if it requires an in-office presence, marking a major shift in how we work. 

However, this could be a blessing in disguise for business owners as it removes the need for maintaining an office, lowering operational costs. 

C) 60% of respondents felt they had improved their mental health by being out of the office (Zen Business, 2020)

The most obvious benefit for both employees and employers is that remote work eliminates the dreaded work commute, saving an average of 27 minutes/day

As a result, remote employees have more time for their personal lives. They get to choose when to take a break to exercise, take their dog on a walk, or even nap! 

All of this leads to a significant improvement in employees’ mental health, reducing the chances of burnout which further means fewer absences. 

2. Increased employee engagement and productivity

Here, we’ll explore the impact high employee engagement has on productivity, absenteeism, and company profits. 

A) Highly engaged workplaces can claim 41% lower absenteeism, 40% fewer quality defects, and 21% higher profitability (Gallup, 2020)

This Gallup study shows the following positively impacts employee engagement: 

  • Job flexibility.
  • Working remotely.
  • Weekly face time with managers and coworkers. 

Why is it this important?
Multiple studies have shown that higher employee engagement directly translates to improved productivity. Engaged employees are happier, more energetic, and more connected to the workplace. 

As a result, they’re less likely to take unscheduled leaves due to burnout or job dissatisfaction, giving their employer a higher ROI (return on investment). 

B) Employee respondents say they’re more productive now than before the pandemic (34% vs. 28%) (PWC, 2021

Employees and executives agree that employee productivity has increased compared to before the pandemic. 

A common reason could be that most offices today have an open-plan structure which can be distracting. These distractions negatively impact productivity and increase stress among employees. 

Studies have also shown that it typically takes 20-30 minutes for people to focus back on their original task after a distraction, potentially leading to hours of lost productivity in a single workday! 

Over time, this can erode employee satisfaction and engagement, increasing absences and even employee turnover.  

C) 78% of respondents said flexible schedules and telecommuting are the most effective non-monetary ways to retain employees (Crain, 2019)

On average, it takes a US company 52 days and about USD 4000 to fill an open position.
So, companies are always looking to retain existing employees. 

However, this study shows that allowing employees to work from home is the easiest way to ensure employee retention. 

Since remote work allows employees to focus equally on their personal and professional lives, it increases employee loyalty. Loyal employees contribute to the company’s growth, leading to increased career advancement opportunities for employees. 

All of this can help employees feel more connected and engaged with the company, which we’ve already shown significantly reduces absenteeism. 

3. Importance of paid time off (PTO) 

Let’s explore how offering ample PTO can reduce the high costs of absenteeism. 

A) In 2019/20, stress, depression, or anxiety accounted for 51% of all work-related ill health cases (HSE, 2020)

According to the UK Labour Force Survey, over half of all employee absenteeism was due to mental health reasons such as anxiety, depression, and stress. 

Employees stated the following factors affected their mental health the most: 

  • Increased workload, especially in a short time frame. 
  • Tight deadlines. 
  • Increased pressure from superiors. 

Add these to an ongoing pandemic, and you’ve got employees at risk of burnout. 

However, if companies changed their attendance policy to accommodate an employee taking a personal day, no questions asked, it may help lower the overall absenteeism rate. 

B) Burnout costs the U.S. industry more than $300 billion a year (HBR, 2019)

Burnout, often a result of chronic workplace stress, can reduce productivity, impaired cognitive functioning, and poor physical and mental health. 

All of these contribute to excessive absenteeism and higher healthcare insurance costs. 

As a result, many companies have responded by introducing workplace wellness programs offering on-site exercise facilities and gym memberships. 

However, research suggests that these programs are not as effective as expected. 

Instead, companies would be better able to help their employees by redirecting said funds and efforts towards educating employees on recognizing the signs of burnout. 

Read more about what causes employee burnout and how to control it here. 

C) Presenteeism costs businesses 10x more than absenteeism (GCC, 2016)

While absent staff members cost businesses about $150 billion annually, presenteeism costs 10 times that! 

What is presenteeism?  

Presenteeism is when employees are physically at work but cannot perform their best as they’re sick, burned out, unmotivated, etc. 

If your company culture emphasizes logging in a specific number of work hours, it may create a situation where employees try outrunning the clock without necessarily doing productive work. 

You can counteract this by focusing on work output or quality of work over hours worked. 

Additionally, you can lead by example by taking a personal leave or sick day when needed and encouraging your employees to prioritize their health.

You can further avoid the burden of presenteeism by utilizing workforce optimization software. This software can track if employees have been pulling long shifts and are at risk of overworking, leading to a higher absenteeism rate. 

It can also help with skills-based routing and ensure employees are matched with the tasks they’re most suitable for, increasing engagement and productivity. 

Read more about the importance of workforce optimization here. 

4. Struggles with scheduling shift work 

Shift work is filled with uncertainty which contributes to more frequent absences, as detailed below. 

A) 85% of workers’ schedules are often changed at the last minute (Shift Project Harvard, 2020)

A typical shift worker can expect a last-minute change to their schedule – whether that’s a canceled shift or a change in timing, although the latter is more common. 

Half of all surveyed employees are also expected to work back-to-back closing and opening shifts separated by less than 11 hours. 

This instability and lack of clarity regarding their own work schedule can cause many childcare problems. For instance, a worker may have to rely on available family members or neighbors or even pay a premium on daycare services. 

If they can’t, they might have to skip the shift entirely, losing out on a day’s pay and increasing the number of no-shows. 

B) 38% of shift workers only know their work schedule one week or less in advance (EPI, 2015)

Most shift employees are unaware of their schedule until the last minute. 

Out of the ones that do, two-thirds know it two weeks in advance, and out of those two-thirds, half only know one week or less in advance. 

Shift employees also say that automated scheduling solutions leave no room for their input on work schedules. This means the software may often schedule shifts when employees aren’t available, leading to a pattern of missed workdays.  

C) 7% of labor hours are scheduled but not worked (Kronos, 2018

These last-minute shift changes mean that industries that rely on shift or hourly employees face a higher absence rate. 

Other employees may feel compelled to pull in longer shifts to compensate for this unscheduled absence, eroding employee engagement. 

Allowing employees to swap shifts, apply for overtime, or even have a system note if an employee is unavailable at a certain time could create more realistic work schedules. 

For instance, if the software knows employee A is unavailable on Monday afternoons, it can use this information to create a schedule where they aren’t scheduled to work on any Monday afternoon. 

Similarly, available employees can request that shift helping you maintain the required staffing levels at all times while simultaneously reducing the employee absenteeism rate. 

5. Utilizing attendance tracking software  

To address employee absenteeism head-on, you can use attendance tracking software across the organizations. 

Why software? 

So you can receive accurate and actionable insight into your employees’ work activities. 

A) 80% of employee timesheets have to be corrected (Wagepoint, 2019)

Wagepoint’s research found that an overwhelming majority of employers still use manual time-tracking methods such as spreadsheets and manual punch cards. 

However, this can lead to some common errors. 

For instance, an employee may forget to punch in before starting work. Similarly, an employee might also fudge the data on a spreadsheet to make it seem like they worked more hours. 

This Wagepoint study also showed that such time-theft costs businesses about $11 billion annually. 

Additionally, incorrect or incomplete employee attendance data can leave your company open to lawsuits and hurt your bottom line. 

B) Only about 19% of employers track the time of salaried workers (Workpuls, 2019)

Companies often utilize time tracking and attendance software to record the work hours of hourly employees. However, most don’t do the same for their full-time, salaried employees. 

Since time tracking has been shown to improve productivity, not using the software for every employee can mean lost productivity. 

With remote employees, lack of attendance tracking can mean you have no way to confirm if the employee worked at all! 

On the other hand, an attendance management system can record:

  • When employees start work.
  • If they’ve applied for personal or sick leave.
  • Attendance rules new hires should follow.  

These systems also let you check if an employee has any vacation days about to lapse in one coherent attendance record. 

C) Companies that utilize software with timekeeping and payroll features were 44% less likely to commit errors (ASAP Payroll Service, 2021)

Most attendance management systems come equipped with time tracking and payroll features. 

As a result, your HR (Human Resources) can easily view an employee attendance record and check if everything is accurate. 

They can also keep track of employee absence trends in your organization and note the total number of absences in a month or quarter. This information can help you draft an effective attendance policy. 

You can also automate your payroll process, so employees are paid promptly and don’t have to wait for their paycheck.

But which employee attendance system should you use?

We recommend choosing an attendance system like Time Doctor that notifies you if an employee is at risk of overworking. This has a two-fold benefit as you avoid employee burnout and comply with your country’s labor laws. 

Check out how Time Doctor’s automatic attendance tracking and Work Schedules feature make attendance management effortless.

Time Doctor is a powerful employee attendance and productivity management tool that lets you check if an employee is present, late, absent, or partially absent on a working day. 

You can also easily confirm the number of days an employee was absent in any given month and how many of those were excused absences. 

Read more about Time Doctor’s features here!  

3 easy ways you can improve employee attendance  

Improving employee attendance doesn’t have to be complicated. 

Let’s look at three ways in which you can do so. 

1. Commit to help employees 

During the pandemic, many companies introduced wellness programs and remote work capabilities. 

However, employees also want:

When you change your approach from reactive to proactive, one that genuinely enriches your employees’ lives, you’ll notice an uptick in employee engagement and attendance. 

2. Personalize support 

There’s never a one-size-fits-all approach to employee absenteeism. 

For instance, you may notice an employee is late on Tuesdays. Rather than simply write them up for tardiness, ask them why that’s happening. 

Maybe something changed in their schedule that’s out of their control. In this case, you could allow them to come in a little later on Tuesdays. 

Small actions like these can go a long way towards creating healthier employer-employee relationships. 

3. Establish programs to enable discussions

Excessive absences can often be a symptom. 

The cause may be a strict policy that marks employees “absent” even if they’re a few minutes late. It could also mean an employee is struggling with something – personal or professional. 

So, take the time to evaluate your policies and update them regularly. 

For instance, if you notice that a number of employees are requesting leaves during the holiday season, adjust everyone’s workload in advance. Doing so will lower the chances of an unexcused absence on a peak day.  

Wrapping up 

Good attendance is the goal of every company; however, it’s not solely the responsibility of the employees. 

As the above statistics have shown, employers and company culture play a massive role in determining an organization’s absenteeism rate. 

To ensure you follow sound policies, listen to your employees and implement their suggestions.

You can also use time tracking and attendance management systems like Time Doctor to keep track of employee absences effortlessly.

View a free demo of Time Doctor

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