This Week's Herman Trend Alert

in Normal 2.0


  The Herman Trend Alert

November 18, 1998

Absenteeism is a Warning Sign of Trouble Ahead

Until corporations wake up to the reality of the limitations of their human assets, we expect to see absenteeism get progressively worse. While wellness programs can help stressed-out employees cope, they are only Band-Aids, not long-term solutions. Employees simply can not and will not continue this pace forever.

Many corporations in their efforts to trim the fat and "get lean" are overworking their employees. Those employees feel like they're running as fast as they can just to keep up with the current work load. These employees don't feel like they're making any progress. They're frustrated. They want to do a good job, but feel overwhelmed.

While these beleaguered workers are running on the treadmill of high activity at work, their family responsibilities remain challenging. With aging parents and school-age children, these workers are caught in the middle, unable to get it all done in the short 24 hours allocated each day.

How are the harried people reacting? They're choosing to miss work. A recent study conducted by CCH, a provider of human resources and employment law information, reported that absenteeism is up to 32%. And when asked why they were missing work, the majority of workers surveyed responded with "stress" and "personal demands."

While we're not suggesting that corporate America "get fat" again, it seems obvious that with the current labor shortages and their wide range of options, employees will not put up with employers who abuse or take advantage of them. Taking control of their own career destiny, they will simply continue to skip work in greater numbers. They'll strive to get the work done, in addition to the family responsibilities, but they also want to take care of themselves.

Employers who ignore workers' needs for balancing work and family life do so at their own peril. Companies that don't provide --meaningful work will find it more difficult to attract and hold the people they need.

We don't expect to see companies over-staffing again, but we do anticipate deliberate steps to relieve some of the pressure. Without the safety valves being open-and monitored, absenteeism, violence, and turnover will plague employers for years to come.

Trend Alert is written by Roger Herman and Joyce Gioia, co-authors of LEAN & MEANINGFUL: A New Culture for Corporate America, (390pp., hardcover, Oakhill Press, 1998) available in bookstores everywhere at $27.95.

© Copyright 1998- by The Herman Group, Inc. -- reproduction for publication is encouraged, with the following attribution: From "The Herman Trend Alert," by Joyce Gioia, Strategic Business Futurist. 336-210-3548 or To sign up, visit The Herman Trend Alert is a trademark of The Herman Group, Inc."

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