The Relationship between Employee Engagement and Sick Days
Posted on April 3, 2012 by Gail Danneman
It has long been believed that happy employees are more likely to be committed to their organization. The high level of commitment contributes to a lower level of turnover and in general more satisfied employees. Organizations strive to retain employees because of the high cost to find replacements for employees that leave the organization. How do employees demonstrate a lack of commitment?
Hoxsey (2010) studied the relationship between organizational commitment, employee engagement, and sick days. The researcher believed that by looking at employees’ absenteeism records, an organization could pinpoint which employees may not be committed or engaged in their current job.
Hoxsey’s research indicated that older employees that have been at the organization for several years will not necessarily possess high levels of commitment to the organization. Naturally we would assume that if an older employee has been at an organization for a long time, it must be because they are committed and are satisfied with their job. These results demonstrate that this is not always the case.
Interestingly enough, women reported higher levels of engagement than men. Women also tended to have more sick days, possibly due to child care. The researchers concluded that looking at an employee’s absenteeism record is not an accurate indicator of employee engagement or commitment. Employees may have different factors that prevent them from getting to work.
Take away message: Sometimes we try so hard to find an answer to workplace problems that we forget to look at the picture. While saying, “Those with a lot of sick days aren’t committed to the organization” may sound simple and provide us with an easy answer, it is important to understand the whole employee. Every employee is different and has different reasons for missing work.
Reference: Hoxsey, D. (2010). Are happy employees healthy employees? Researching the effects of employee engagement on absenteeism. Canadian Public Administration, 53, 551-571.