A study led by John Hausknecht of Cornell University reported that high unemployment is accompanied by lower worker absenteeism. Unfortunately for employers, the drop in absenteeism largely occurs among the most unhappy workers. Dissatisfied workers have the most absences when times are good, but they go to work more often when companies are cutting jobs.
Dr. Hausknecht theorizes that this occurs because when unemployment is low, dissatisfied workers feel they can afford to take extra days off without risking penalty. Unemployment rates have the least effect among highly satisfied workers, whose absenteeism rates are consistently low.
The study, reported by Reuters in The Financial Express in late 2008, examined the behavior of 12,500 employees of a US state department of transportation between 1998 and 2003. Its findings are likely to hold true in today's economic climate, Hausknecht said. The study also found overall worker absenteeism increased at a pace of about five percent each year during the five year period of the study. A company with 12,500 employees would incur a cumulative cost exceeding $6 million per year after five years of rising absenteeism.
Source: Reuters – Financial Express