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Challenges and choices HR Managers Face Concerning Managing Retention and Absenteeism

Paper outline:

Introduction
Importance of Absenteeism and Retention to HR

Absenteeism

Employee Retention
Other Relevant Views on Retention and Absenteeism and the Causing Factors
Conclusion

 
 
 
 
 
 
Abstract
This paper discusses the challenges faced by human resource managers in dealing with absenteeism and retention problems in their organization. It offers the theoretical basis for HR manager intentions and provides and explanation why some HR management strategies fail to work. The paper expands on the role of psychological factors in influencing the perception of job satisfaction on the individual. The paper also offers a look at absenteeism on a unit level and a view of how religion affects job satisfaction and performance. Peer reviewed journals have been used in the discussion part to form the opinion of this paper that HR managers need to look further into fulfilling psychological need if they are to achieve considerable long term success at addressing absenteeism and retention issues. Limitations of this paper are a reliance of secondary literature and a focus on job satisfaction and its influences on absenteeism and retention challenges. This focus might have left other significant aspects of the challenges faced by HR managers on absenteeism and retention.

Challenges and choices HR Managers Face Concerning Managing Retention and Absenteeism
Introduction
Organizations task their human resource managers with the role of ensuring that they benefit from an optimum input of their human resource. The overall theme of HR managers is to reduce employee turnover so that they reduce their recruitment and training costs. High employees retain rates also contribute positively to the organizational knowledge capacity and enhance the organizational culture. HR managers deal with the task of acquiring, retaining, developing and effectively utilizing people that the organization requires. The strategy that HR managers use has close resemblance to the overall business strategy of the organization. The strategy forms the groundwork for human resource planning tasks. HR managers will ensure that their strategy is relevant and will use it as a basis for their HR activities that include retention planning and talent management. The efficacy of using human resources incorporates the provision of flexibility and the control of absenteeism (Amstrong 2010).
Importance of Absenteeism and Retention to HR
Novicevic et al. (2011) note that management and labour relation together with employee-to-employee relations currently form the main issues of HR management as they did over a century ago. The authors analyse Chester Barnard’s view in contemporary views and conclude that both views resonate even though they have a period of century separating them. The authors indicate that sincerity and honesty of management is important is an employee is to have a will to act as a team. Secondly, joint teamwork is more desirable and has greater beneficial results compared to collective bargaining. The study is important because it explains why the management of HR by policy often fails. According to Barnard’s views as analysed by the authors, it is wrong to allow the absurdity of rigorous selection and negligent development and retention. It only leads to a poor management and employee relationship that fails to acknowledge that dynamic effort in the organization comes from each employee’s willingness to grow in the organization. When employees are satisfied, they stay longer at the organization and have less reported cases of absenteeism. Moreover, satisfied employees show little need for leave time. Satisfaction is positively correlated with quality improvements.
Absenteeism
In most studies, absenteeism has been studied on an individual level. Theory and hypotheses about absenteeism mostly focus on the individual level because the behaviour is noted among individuals. The issue of absenteeism may also be studied on a unit level as (Hausknecht, Hiller & Vance 2008) did. In theory, the study of absenteeism on a unit level will encompass the related aspects of human sociology and normative prospect attributed to work groups. When studying unit level absenteeism, the empirical findings go beyond what can be obtained when only individuals form the focus of study. Absenteeism studies linking the behaviour to job satisfaction have obtained mixed results. On one part, results are similar to individual absenteeism where job satisfaction leads to decreased absence behaviour. On the other hand, low job satisfaction in work unit also corresponds to low absenteeism. The second result may be explained by the tendency for individuals in a unit to assume in-group behaviours remain committed despite the job dissatisfaction. According to Hausknecht, Hiller and Vance (2008), High levels of organizational commitment in work units correlate negatively with levels of individual absenteeism irrespective of the level of job satisfaction. When the peer group is analysed, then it provides an explanation of the variance in absenteeism among work units. In addition, satisfaction and commitment on is higher for work units located in areas of low unemployment compared to those located in areas of high rates of unemployment, further suggesting that unemployment rate plays a moderating role in the level of absenteeism. These findings are relevant to human resource managers; they reveal that annual comparisons of HR might be missing the gradual and significant slipping of vital employee metrics over an extended period (Hausknecht, Hiller & Vance 2008).
Employee Retention
(Clark & d’Ambrosio 2005) HR management in the education sector faces challenges of retaining and retiring its aging staff amid high costs mainly attributed to health insurance. In addition, a large cohort of the aged faculty seems to be ready for retirement. Higher education institutions like any other organization, after recruiting high quality staffs have to ensure that they retain them. These institutions face a chronic challenge of retaining their staffs from being poached by peer organizations that promise offer better compensation because of their resource capacity. The most salient positive approach to deal with the problem has been to offer no tenure appointments to most faculties so that retentions costs are lower and the job appointment remains flexible to attract high quality staffs.
Organizations face an uphill task of retaining their junior management staff in a highly competitive industrial business environment. The turnover among junior management is high because of the large pool of available career development opportunities and this is presenting senior HR managers with a challenge of retaining their most qualified managers to ensure quality production that determines their organization’s competitiveness. Ghosh & Sahney (2011) have studied the relationship of organization and managers and its effect on retention. The authors note that when sociotechnical designs are balanced for managerial jobs then managers exhibit a higher level of job satisfaction and thus the organization experiences less managerial personnel turnover. Moreover, the authors note that a positive superior-subordinate understanding has the potential to lower significantly the throughput intention of managers. Positive understanding includes cooperation, trust, recognition, and sharing of feedback and information. The study highlights a significant role that peer socialization among managers provides and enabling social subsystem that corresponds to the tendency of managers to share feedback among themselves and others in the organization, affecting their cooperation and their collective harmony in job performance. This realization is paramount to unit or departmental heads; they must be sensitive to the creation of an enabling environment, facilitating a supportive and reciprocate association of colleagues in a unit. Among managers, job satisfaction improves with the characteristics of their job assignments. These include factors like repetitiveness, planning and timeliness, authority and decision and specialization. To improve on retention, HR mangers have a responsibility of ensuring that supporting facilities are provided. They include infrastructure, remuneration, workload, personal career development support, support within units and top-down support. Organizational HR management has to amalgamate the social and technical subsystems conditions of the organization into the institution as a prerequisite for managerial personnel retention.
Other Relevant Views on Retention and Absenteeism and the Causing Factors
Hashim (2010) gives a perspective on how religious teachings affect human resource. Several countries incorporate the influence of religion on their HRM in terms of organizational policy governing employee and management associations. The author notes that in Malaysia, Islamic organizational incorporate Islamic approaches to compensation, training and recruitment. This is expected of the organizations because they mainly employ Islamic personnel. However, a significant aspect of the study by Hashim (2010) is that, employees who strictly obey their religious teachings covering their jobs and who work in an environment that affords them the opportunity to practice their faith show greater commitment to their jobs. In addition, they demonstrate a pro-active initiative to peer-performance review as their social obligation and hence reduce the requirement of HR management to develop additional programs to boost retaining.
The issue of employee turnover is closely linked with job satisfaction and job compensation. Carraher (2011) studied the relevancy of predicting employee turnover over a four-year period in three countries of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, based on the employee attitudes toward their pay, gender, age and benefits. The author admits that attitudes may be dynamic or static in their nature of influencing employee turnover. From the study findings, the author notes that when pay satisfaction is high, employees remain at their current jobs, however in some cases high pay satisfaction led to an increased employee turnover attributed to employee assumption that higher pay opportunities were available abroad mainly in Western Europe. By highlighting the dependence of pay satisfaction on other social and economic factor, the study challenges HR managers to focus more on the benefits provided to employees in addition to the pay check so that correspond positively to their social expectations (Kazlauskaite & Bucˇiu¯niene 2010).
Government and employers continue to create policies in their respective organization that will address the cost and extent of absenteeism. As these policies take effect, there is concern that there is little provision for allowing sick absence as HR managers seek to maximize their organizational benefits from human resource. Munir, Yarker and Haslam (2008) argue that employee report to work despite their illness is on the rise as policies are inflexible and this possesses serious consequences on workplace safety. Rigidness of policies on absenteeism has resulted to most employees feeling guilty of being sick and go to the extent of thinking that is they are diagnosed with an illness then they will lose their jobs. The cumulative impacts of employee fear of informing their colleagues of their sickness and obtained the required help has negative consequence to the organization. HR suffers more frequently as unattended sicknesses increase the rates of employee absenteeism. The issue becomes complex to resolve when HR managers cannot tangibly associate with the reason for absenteeism of the employees. On the HR manager side, employees with occupational health can be frustrating because the manager is not aware of the specific illness due to patient confidentiality and instead has to deal with unexplained reasons of skipping work for not feeling well. For employees risking deterioration of their health by attending work, management mostly fails to compensate them for their risk and concentrates on target compensation that this employees are impaired to achieve. In such cases, employees persevere on the job until their condition becomes chronic and they have to leave the job for a long term. HR managers then realize that their retention policies were inadequate. A possible remedy to this problem would be for managers to provide flexible works condition for their sick employees instead of termination based on absenteeism. Managers also fall victims to being unwillingly present because of their critical role in overseeing operation of their organizations. The result is an increased burnout and work related stress that reduces job satisfaction and commitment in the long term. To effectively deal with the problem of chronic illness more should be done in addition to prompt disclosure (Davey et al. 2009).
According to Munir, Yarker & Haslam (2008), HR managements should realize that rigid policies on absenteeism are detrimental to the organization. Instead, HR managers should become knowledgeable so that they can provide guidance to line managers to manage better occupational health. In addition, strategies should be adopted so that it is easier and comfortable for both management and employees to declare their chronic diagnosis promptly. The policy should take into consideration the organizational infrastructure available and the resource constraints that managers face in dealing with employees having chronic diseases. Further, to strengthen the relevancy of the attendance management system, a robust management information system should be put in place.
According to Fournet, Distefano Jr. and Pryer (1966), the intention of HR management to deal with absenteeism and achieve high retention rate must recognize the universal influence that job satisfaction has on the two factors. This paper has demonstrated that job satisfaction is inversely related to absenteeism although variations occur at an individual level. In addition, there are differences in the relationship of job satisfaction for low-level jobs and high-level jobs. In high-level jobs, both white collar and blue collar, the increase in job satisfaction does not necessarily translate to reduced absenteeism as other factors come into play such as in-group behaviours of peers, and the perception of the benefits provided by the company. Absenteeism varies with professions, as they are divided across technical and non-technical job satisfactions.
An overall theme of turnover and absenteeism research has been to recommend that HR personnel recognize and address psychological needs of their employees for the long term retaining of their staffs and reduce levels of absenteeism. The tendency for HR managers to increase their employee pay to retain them backfires when employees realize that they have no or a very limited chance for further career development in the organization. Thus, if the organization lacks opportunities for growth and development of its employees, a pay increase will not significantly help to retain high-level staffs. On absenteeism, employers input rigorous recruitment and training programs to ensure that their employees are of a high calibre and embody desirable working personalities. However, as indicated in this paper, absenteeism extends beyond the work related reasons and assumes influences from personal life such as illness, perception and job expectation (Ghebregiorgis & Karsten 2007).
Conclusion
To sum up this paper has looked into the challenges that face HR manages as they deal with absenteeism and retention issues. The discussion has focussed on the findings by relevant studies into the subject around the world. This paper notes that there are while causes of absenteeism are similar on various professions, the degree of influence of these factors varies. Similarly, the paper recommends different strategies for dealing with both absenteeism and retention; however, the overall theme of all strategies should be the understanding of psychological needs of employees. Finally, the paper notes that absenteeism and retention challenge occur not only in subordinate employees but also in the management of organizations.
 


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