At some employers, worker absences and the effects of those absences on overtime, productivity and quality accounts for 15% of payroll costs.
As the average age of workers increases and more workers stay on the job past the traditional retirement age of 65, many employers are wondering if the aging of the work force will lead to new absence management problems.
In reality, studies suggest that older workers are more likely than younger workers to show up for work and may be more likely to get the job done.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employers lose about 2.8 million workdays each year due to employee injuries and illnesses. But attendance records are actually better for older workers than for younger workers, and a recent study sponsored by a unit of MetLife Inc., New York, found that workers over age 50 use 45% less sick time than do workers between the ages of 25 and 35.
Older workers suffer from fewer incidences of acute illness and sporadic sick days and far fewer days spent caring for sick children. Although pension costs and vacation day costs might be higher for workers with more years of service, lower turnover rates for longtime workers translate into lower recruiting, hiring and training expenses.
In addition, because older workers are less likely to need to maintain a 9 to 5 work schedule to accommodate family responsibilities, they are more likely to be able to accept a night shift or a flexible schedule.
Studies also have shown that overall productivity may plateau or even increase as workers age.
Older workers tend to be more accurate and better at making spot judgments, and their production rates tend to be steadier than those for workers in other age groups, according to a study published by AARP, Washington.