New Horizons in Management series
Edited by Suzy Fox and Terri R. Lituchy
Eric Patton and Gary Johns When considering dysfunctional and harmful workplace behaviors, absence from work is surely one that most people would quickly identify. Whether recalling our early childhood school days or reading costs analyses focusing on the billions of dollars lost through attendance problems in the workplace, absenteeism almost always has a negative connotation. From a cost perspective, a 2008 report from the global consulting firm Mercer suggested that direct and indirect costs of absenteeism can amount to 36 percent of payroll costs, which is more than twice the cost of healthcare in organizations (Hastings, 2008). Beyond financial costs, absenteeism also contributes to the dysfunctional workplace by upsetting and inconveniencing coworkers and disrupting workflows (Harrison and Martocchio, 1998). In fact, Patton (2011) found evidence that coworkers experience anger and a desire to punish colleagues for their absenteeism, even when the absentee would view the reason as legitimate. Much of the rhetoric surrounding absence from work involves control and punishment (Nicholson, 1976; Edwards and Whitston, 1993; Simpson and Martocchio, 1997), and this is particularly the case for individuals who are prone to absence (Conlon and Stone, 1992). Johns (1997) notes that absenteeism is regularly perceived as a deviant behavior, both because of the negative impact it has on the organization and the perception that it is caused by personal deviance on the part of the absentee. Evidence that workers generally under-report their absence (Johns, 1994) further supports the notion that this is a behavior that workers do not wish to...
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