Organizational Behavior and the Absenteeism


Organizational Behavior is the art of studying and applying the knowledge of how persons, either individuals or groups act in organizations. It tries to look at the relationship between people and organization in terms of the whole individual, whole grouping, whole association and whole social structure. The aim of doing this is to build better relationships by attaining human goals, association goals as well as social goals. Organizational behavior brings together a variety of other topics together, like human behavior, change, teams and leadership. In every association, managers are always faced with troubles that are linked to human conduct.

Other than varying in terms of intensity and magnitude, these problems have one thing in common in that they all have needed potential to upset the output of the association and manipulate the fulfillment resulting from the work. Organizations can be termed as social structures since they are composed of highly complex, and often unpredictable human beings (Hoag and Cooper 2006)

In order to describe the behavior within groups, we can view organizations in a way such as if they have a life of their own. However, humans and organizations are not mutually exclusive events. That is to say, an organization cannot exist without human beings. If the manager can devote their time to making people accept as true that an organization is a different unit, they can be able to develop fidelity, common view point and synergy under the name of ‘team-spirit’ and ‘our culture’.

The challenge is that an organization cannot remain in a constant state throughout since it is composed of individuals, each of whose physical, emotional and intellectual conditions keep on fluctuating from one moment to another. For instance, the physical and emotional conditions of supporters of a certain team that was losing a match would change drastically if their team scores a goal. They would start cheering up to increase the morale of the team. This shows how the conditions of individuals in an organization change from time to time making it difficult to predict the outcome of the group (Hoag and Cooper 2006).

Organizational behavior can also be termed as the systematic study of the conduct of persons within work groups, analyzing the character of the group, developing the systems between and within groups as well as executing change. The rationale of organizational behavior is to foresee and manage individual and group behavior so as to attain administration objectives. The main issues that are addressed in organizational behavior are; personal conduct and performance at work, the character and functioning of individuals in groups, the nature of social structures and association plan at work, and the procedure concerned with adjusting behavior to meet changing conditions (Reddy 2004, pp. 2-5).

It is always good to have good coordination in an organization so as to realize the organizational objectives. How managers perceive their employees determine the overall productivity of the organization. During the 1970s managers at Xerox feared that it might fall if the business transactions were transferred from paperwork to electronic form. After the invention of the first complete desktop PCs, the top manager failed to continually organize a system that could bring the new technology to the market. Top managers of that era made their work more difficult by venturing into other businesses, then struggled to try to come up with systems that would repair the mess they had created. This was a result of absenteeism and negligence.

Definition and cost of absenteeism

There is another side of absenteeism, where the employee fails to report to work or remain at work as scheduled, for whatsoever reason. Unscheduled absenteeism can be a very disruptive and costly situation where an employee is not at work. It is important to identify whether absenteeism is a relevant concept within an organization. There are some organizations that do not determine the effectiveness of an employee by the amount of time he or she spends in a company but by the output of the employee.

For instance, in a programming organization, an employee is not measured by the time he or she spends in coding but he or she is rated by how effective the program runs. To such companies, absenteeism seems to be irrelevant. However, absenteeism still remains relevant for workers who are scheduled to report to central places like a factory or a call center. Moreover, old employees are less likely to be absent from themselves than new employees (Cole, 2001, p.86).

Absenteeism is an expense to the company since the job assigned to a certain worker is not done when it is supposed to be done when the worker is absent (Saiyadain, 2003, p.67). It is likely to argue that – without prove – the work is done by another worker when the person is absent. How an organization copes with absenteeism varies from one organization to another and hence the need to come up with a consistent stand so as to have a reliable measure.

However small the cost of absenteeism may seem to be, it needs to be avoided since it counts in the total turnover of the company. It is vital for managers to understand the best way of curbing losses incurred due to absenteeism. They need to come up with good measures of absenteeism and how to manage it in their companies. There are many theories that have been established to curb absenteeism (Singh 2009, p. 426).

The aspect of employability has been employed in many companies. Here it does not depend on the academic level, gender or experience of a worker but it mainly depends on how much that person can deliver. Here employees are given contracts that bind them to some rules and regulations. This is employed where the manager and the organization are the customers and the employees are the suppliers. This has shifted the responsibility of the employability away from the association. This makes the employees become independent contractors; accountable to themselves more than they ever had been to anyone else.

From this aspect, all that makes workers employable is now up to the worker since employability is exclusively based on value (Hoag and Cooper 2006, p. 253). Here the payment agreed upon does not change whether the work is finished earlier or not.

This is because time and effort expended do not matter but the value delivered, hence making the employees become valuable personal managers. They manage what they do when they do it, how they do it and where they do it since this determines their continuity in employment. If value-based principles are not employed, the independent contractors create a perception in their mind that what has happened can happen again including absenteeism. An organization where value-based principles are practiced is able to overcome the unethical issue of absenteeism (Cascio and Boudreau 2008).

Another way of curbing absenteeism is by changing the kind of work done to project-based work. This makes the employees be accountable only for the ultimate end results for their work. Here there are no real work schedules and workers can work whatever kind of schedule they want, provided that they produce the needed results and at the right time. However, adhering to a work schedule is important for successful operations. An organization like computer programming would not rate its employees by the amount of time they spend coding but by the effectiveness of the programs they code. How effective the program runs determines how hardworking and reliable the employee is. Such kinds of project-based organizations have been successful in eliminating the costs of absenteeism (Saiyadain (2003).

Measure and methods of controlling absenteeism

Absenteeism can be managed by first establishing its root cause. After that, the organization can come up with ways of addressing the issues that cause absenteeism. As much as possible some punishments like the application of penalties may be detrimental to the employee rather than solving the problem of absenteeism (Bagad, 2009, p. 32). Here is a case study of a health clinic that suffered high absenteeism costs and after developing the cause of absenteeism and acting towards it, the health care turned the problem into an actionable strategy. The clinic was experiencing high rates of absenteeism among employees with direct patient-care responsibilities.

This affected the satisfaction of the patients in reference to the care they received. It was found that 25% of patient- care work was not done and 67% of non-patient work went undone. The few workers that attended their duties suffered from burnout and constrained relationships with their executives.

Employee absenteeism was indicated as one of the causative agents to the problem mentioned earlier. After consulting, the clinic identified the root cause of employee absenteeism was that most of the absentee-worker were parents who had young children. Frequently, these parents were found to lack emergency or sick-child care, compelling them to abscond from duties so as to take care of their sick children. The management decided to provide child care and backup childcare facilities for patients, while in the clinic as well as for employees to use in times of emergency.

This attracted and retained the member of the clinic as well as creating another avenue for income. By the end of one year, the rate of absenteeism was found to have dropped by 70% less than that of employees that employee who was eligible but never used the facilities. With the help of the human resource department, you can use one problem to identify other problems that are affecting the organization (Kumar 2002, p. 178).

Absenteeism can also be managed by introducing a positive-incentive absence control program that focuses on awarding employees for coming to work. The study was set in a nonprofit hospital that had 3000 employees. They took two sample groups, the experimental group composed of 164 employees and control group with 136 employees. The experimental group was given the positive-incentive program while the control group was not given.

The hospital had a sick leave program where employees could take up to 96 hours (12 days per year) of paid leave. Under the new positive-incentive program, the workers were given the option of converting up to 24 hours of their unused sick leave into additional pay or vacation. To get the net amount of incentive, the total amount of absent hours was subtracted from 24. This was done both verbally and in writing. In the year that preceded the installation of the positive—incentive program, the absence levels of the two groups were almost the same.

For the three years that the positive-incentive program was operational, the absence levels of the experimental group decreased significantly while that of the control group was still high. This continued during the fourth year even after the termination of the program. Gender and the number of hours absent were the only variables that were related to absence during the previous year. If the positive-incentive program had been expanded to incorporate all the 3000 employees in the hospital, the hospital could be saving a net of $42000 per annum (Singh. 2009).

It is important to note that the positive-incentive program may not have any effect on employees who take sick leave as their right and should be used whether one is sick or not. Furthermore, this may encourage employees who should be absent for genuine reasons to attend duties and he or she may not be effective. Absence is just but one of the many symptoms of job dissatisfaction (Ahmad, Gilkar & Darzi, 2008, p. 139). Attendance incentives can come up with a substitution for the symptom but on the other hand, this may increase tiredness, idling, low output and turnover. When this is the state of a company, the management may be required to look for more comprehensive interventions that are based on the results of various research methods like targeted attitude surveys (Hoag and Cooper, 2006, p. 238).

Another way of managing absenteeism is by offering paid time offs. This is where sick days, vacation time and holidays are brought together to form an annual leave. Then the employee is given the option of choosing the time when he or she would like to go for leave. The employee is given the right to manage their sick and vacation time, hence they can take a day off without being questioned. In the event that an employee uses all his time before the year is over and would wish to be given a day off, that day is not paid. If by any chance the leave days are not used up, then they are converted to accrued leaved days and are paid. This is a win-win situation for managers and employees.

This eliminates the abuse of sick leave as well as saving the managers from playing the role of enforcers. There are some typical employees who view leave days as a right and if you don’t use them then consider them as lost. Paid time-off (PTO) policies have provided an incentive to employees against taking unnecessary time off because excessive absence may lead to dismissal (Cascio and Boudreau 2008, p.60).

These managerial tactics of controlling absenteeism vary from one company to another and in each case, they have different outcomes. This depends mainly on the kind of leadership. It is good for an organization that needs to overcome the problem of absenteeism to have good leadership styles. “Leadership is an activity of influencing the behavior, beliefs and feelings of a group in an intended direction. It is the process of directing and influencing through the decision making process and it is an act of influencing the activities of others in a group towards goal setting and goal achievement” (Sharma, and Subramanya, 1997, p.91).

Thus managers should have good management skills to be able to apply the best methods of controlling absenteeism. They need to have technical skills which is the ability to work with tools, procedures, techniques and knowledge of a certain field of work like engineers. Human skill is needed. It is the capability of working with, understanding and motivating other people either as individuals or as groups; indeed, motivated employees are unlikely to absent themselves from work (Singla and Singla, 2009, p. 208). Managers that do not have conceptual skill are not able to coordinate and integrate all the activities of an organization.

Conceptual skill can be referred to as the capability of seeing the organization as a whole, recognizing significant elements in a situation, and understanding the relationships among the elements. Despite the fact that the skills are important for managers at every level of the hierarchy, their significance varies according to the positions. Technical skills fit best managers at lower levels while conceptual skills are good for managers at top levels (Aquinas 2005, p. 268).

For good coordination and integration of an organization’s goals human objectives and social objectives, managers are required to their roles very well. Without doing this, there is the creation of a gap between executives and the lower employees. This may lead to employees disliking the job and develop some unethical behaviors like absenteeism. There are three main roles that a manager should play so as to bring harmony to a working environment. The figurehead role is where the manager is required to carry out some duties of a ceremonial nature. For instance, the manager may decide to take the employee to lunch.

This is one kind of interpersonal role that may be seen as a routine but it is very important for the smooth functioning of the organization. The leader role of a manager is where the manager encourages his or her subordinate staff to achieve the goals of the organization. Other than hiring and training employees, this can be done by motivating employees and coordinating individual needs with those of the association (Anbuvelan, 2007, p.216). When the individual needs of an employee are addressed, the worker feels appreciated and is able to be free hence increasing productivity. Furthermore, the worker feels attracted to the job and this avoids unnecessary absenteeism.

For a company where value is their main target, it becomes very easy to attain the required result and at the right time. Managers are also required to play the liaison role by spending a significant amount of time interacting with others outside their sector, like the subordinate, clients, and union leaders. This is vital to a manager since he is able to get information from the employees. If a manager plays this role effectively, he is able to listen to the interests of the employees as well as their grudges. This avoids discouragements as well as other unbecoming behaviors like demonstrations which may cost the company heavily.

Relationship between organizational behavior to everyday practices

Organizational behavior relates to the day to day human practices. A work organization is essentially a network of relationships between people. To attain the common goals, the organization requires renovating their membership, deploying and adapting their awareness, skills and competencies and meeting the intrinsic as well as extrinsic needs. There is a change that is occurring in all people and all things on day to day basis. This change is affecting the organizational behavior of a company.

Most intellectual managers work towards bringing up conditions that assist in controlling organizations instead of allowing change to occur as a natural result of the passage of time. This can be dangerous to the whole company leave alone a specific business. Change in an organization is inevitable. There are certain practices or forces that affect the organizational behaviors in an organization. These forces can be internal or external. If there is an increase or change in the size of an organization, there will be major shifts in the internal structure of the company, leading to change in organizational behaviors. Practices like poor performance or success in a company can bring about change in behaviors.

A change in the values and needs of an employee may be a strong force that drives organizational change. When there is a change in the executive, this brings to the end one era and the beginning of another. This may lead to significant changes in corporate changes, systems and practices. Practices like organizational crisis (reduction in prices or losses) may lead to drastic organizational changes in area like development, systems and marketing practices (Govindarajan and Natarajan, 2005, pp 120-22).

There are other practices or forces that bring changes in organizational behavior. Practices that change the technology act as causative agents for change in organizational behavior as well as setting. There are other practices found in every country like changes in inflation rates, money supplies, interest rates and industry competition that affect organizational behavior. These are called business and economic practices or forces.

The society in which the company is located affects the organizational behavior of workers in that company. Practices like change in the interest of products bring about change. Government taxation, as well as spending policies, affects the fiscal climate in which business operates. Change in these policies affects the availability of money for investment and consumption. Increased taxation on payment may discourage the worker and may result in unethical behaviors. Change can also be a factor that brings change, commonly referred to as the Domino Effect. This is where one change results in a chain of other changes that otherwise would not have occurred.

These are changes like the introduction of a new department or branch. To sum up these practices and forces, the manager needs to control changes that occur in a company. There are things that the manager needs to do in order to manage change. They need to give advance notice whenever a change is about to occur. It is always good, to be frank with the employees concerning the changes that are about to occur. It is good to be open and discuss with employees the implications of the changes (Gupta, 2009, p. 180).

Reference List

Ahmad, S. F., Gilkar, N. A. & Darzi, J. A., 2008. Organizational Behavior. New Delhi, Atlantic Publishers & Distributors.

Anbuvelan, K., 2007. Principles of Management. NEW Delhi, Firewall Media.

Aquinas, P.G., 2005. Principles of Management. Edition 1. India. Anmol Publications PVT. LTD.

Bagad, V.S., 2009. Principles of Management. Perth, Technical Publications.

Cascio, W. F., Boudreau J. W., 2008. Investing in people: financial impact of human resource initiatives. 1st edition. New Jersey, FT Press.

Cole, G. A., 2001. Organizational Behavior. London, Cengage Learning EMEA.

Govindarajan, M. and Natarajan, S., 2005. Principles of Management. Delhi, PHI Learning Pvt. Ltd.

Gupta, G., 2009. Principles of Management. NEW Delhi, PHI Learning Pvt. Ltd.

Hoag, B. and Cooper, C. L., 2006. Managing value-based organizations: it’s not what you think. London, Edward Elgar Publishing.

Kumar, N., 2002. Organizational Behavior. New Delhi, Anmol Publications PVT. LTD.

Reddy, R.J., 2004. Organizational Behavior. New Delhi. APH Publishing.

Saiyadain, M. S., 2003. Organizational Behavior. New Delhi. Tata McGraw-Hill.

Sharma, S., V.V. and Subramanya, V.V., 2002. Organizational Behavior. India. Anmol Publications PVT. LTD.

Singh, D. A., 2009. Effective Management of Long Term Care Facilities. Edition2. Sudbury, Jones & Bartlett Learning.

Singla, R.K. and Singla, N., 2009. Principles of Management. FK Publications.

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