Warehouses Woo Absent Workers

The Dec. 2002 issue of WERCwatch reports on warehouse employee attendance trends and ways to manage absenteeism. With the annual cost of absenteeism rising to $750 per warehouse employee in 2001, according to a survey conducted by CCH Inc. of Riverwoods, IL, warehouses have to budget 1.7% of payroll expenses to cover costs. Illness accounts for barely one-third of worker absence, at 32%; family issues, stress, and personal needs account for another 51%. Results are corroborated by a WERC survey of 175 members, conducted in 2000, in which respondents ranked dependability both as the most needed skill for entry-level employees and as the skill most lacking in that group.

WERCwatch reviews solutions developed by several members, from paid leave banks, points systems, and incentive programs, to flexible staffing and progressive discipline combined with counseling. Not surprisingly, the essence of making any such program successful is to involve the people affected, to communicate with them clearly, and once policies are determined, to enforce them consistently.

Home Free

Annual Paid Time Off for Warehouse Employees
Death in family 1-3 days 80.7% (n = 249)
Illness 1-5 days 45.1% (n = 224)
Holidays 9-10 days 32.6% (n = 276)
Source: WERC, “Warehousing Benefits Programs, 2001”