Reducing sickness absenteeism: research how the sickness absenteeism rate at an organisation can be reduced with measures at organisational level which are in line with the existing way of working.

Aalbers, J. (2013) Reducing sickness absenteeism: research how the sickness absenteeism rate at an organisation can be reduced with measures at organisational level which are in line with the existing way of working.

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Abstract:The organisation in this research is an interactive multimedia company with its expertise in the field of web portals, sites and shops, digital business development, hosting acceleration and mobile devices. According to the management of the organisation it is a problem of the last few years that the sickness absenteeism is too high in their organisation. In the perception of the management it seems that the sickness absenteeism at the organisation is higher than at other comparable organisations in the industry of interactive multimedia. This high absenteeism is not perceived as very logically, because the organisation adapts the work as closely as possible to the needs of the employees. They also make use of various measures to monitor and reduce the sickness absenteeism. Therefore, the management of the organisation wants to investigate how this sickness absenteeism can be reduced. As a result, the following research question is central in this study: “How can the sickness absenteeism rate at the organisation be reduced with measures at organisational level which are in line with the existing way of working?” To start this research, a literature study was carried out to investigate what sickness absenteeism is, what possible causes for sickness absenteeism may be and what organisational factors can reduce the sickness absenteeism in an organisation. Based on this literature study, three (sub) research questions were formulated. First, the (sub) research question was investigated: “What is the sickness absenteeism at the organisation?” To answer this question the current state of affairs concerning the sickness absenteeism in the organisation was examined by analysing the sickness absenteeism statistics of the organisation. Also an interview with the occupational health physician of the organisation was conducted to get more insight into the sickness absenteeism at the organisation. The second (sub) research question was: “What is the difference between the actual and the perceived absenteeism opportunity at the organisation?” To answer this question the actual absenteeism opportunity was examined by analysing the sickness absenteeism policy documents of the organisation. With this document analysis it was investigated what the organisation already performs to reduce the sickness absenteeism. In addition, the perceived absenteeism opportunity was examined with an online questionnaire for all employees of the organisation (n=64; 88.89%) and an additional online questionnaire for the frequently and long-term sick employees (n=11; 68.75%). These additional questions were completed by the frequently and long-term sick employees to get a deeper understanding of how the sickness absenteeism procedure of the organisation is experienced. In this way it is examined what aspects concerning the sickness absenteeism procedure the organisation may improve to reduce the sickness absenteeism. In addition a third (sub) research question was examined: “How do employees of the organisation experience the organisational factors which may influence the sickness absenteeism in the organisation?” This question is about the organisational factors that may influence sickness absenteeism which emerged from the literature study. The perception of employees about these factors was investigated in the same questionnaires as for the second (sub) research question: an online questionnaire for all employees in the organisation and an additional online questionnaire for the long-term and frequently sick employees. This way it is investigated which organisational factors the organisation may improve to reduce the sickness absenteeism. The results of this study showed that the sickness absenteeism at the organisation is indeed higher than the national percentage for organisations of similar size. The sickness absenteeism at the organisation turns out to be 4.56% in the year 2012/2013 compared to the national average of 3.5% for companies of similar size (CBS, 2013). It emerged that the largest part of the sickness absenteeism rate at the organisation can be explained by the long-term sickness absenteeism. However, it also turned out that the organisation can have little impact on the earlier return of these current long-term sick employees. In addition, the short-term sickness absenteeism also appeared to be an important part of the sickness absenteeism rate. It turned out that the organisation might realise improvements concerning this short-term sickness absenteeism and that reducing the short-term absenteeism is also beneficial for reducing the long-term absenteeism. Therefore, it is concluded that the organisation should focus on reducing the short-term sickness absenteeism consisting of both the physical and mental health complaints. In addition, the results showed that the organisation should focus on two key aspects in reducing the short-term sickness absenteeism. The organisation should focus on measures at organisational level concerning the compliance with the existing absenteeism policy and the high (cognitive) work load in reducing the short-term sickness absenteeism. Regarding a greater compliance with the existing absenteeism policy, it is advisable that the organisation communicates their sickness absenteeism policy more clearly and creates more awareness about the existence and importance of their sickness absenteeism policy. Also a stricter enforcement of the sickness absenteeism policy is recommended to raise the sickness absenteeism threshold and to stimulate an absenteeism culture where reporting sick is not too easy. For lowering the (cognitive) work load, it turned out that it is advisable that the organisation ensures that more alternation and movement between the work activities occurs. Also it is recommended that employees have the possibility to use small enclosed working spaces when they prefer to work in such a working climate. In addition it is advisable that the organisation pays more attention to the monitoring of the (cognitive) work load and the work-life balance of employees by discussing this on a regular basis with employees. It is also recommended that the organisation increases the number of moments for employees to receive feedback on their work. Finally, it is advisable that the organisation makes the career perspective for employees more insightful. These measures at organisational level concerning a greater compliance with the existing absenteeism policy and lowering the high (cognitive) work load may cause that fewer employees report sick. With these measures the organisation may reduce the sickness absenteeism in the organisation. At the end of this study some general recommendations for in practice and recommendations for further research are given.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:85 business administration, organizational science
Programme:Business Administration MSc (60644)
Link to this item:http://purl.utwente.nl/essays/63663
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