Purpose – The purpose of this study is to first create an overview of relevant factors directly influencing employee absence in the healthcare sector. The overview is used to further investigate the factors identified using employee satisfaction survey scores exclusively. The result of the overall objective is a management framework that allows managers to gain insight into the current status of risk factors with high influence on employee absence levels. Design/methodology/approach – The research consists of a quantitative literature study supported by formal and semi-formal interviews conducted at the case organisations. Employee satisfaction surveys were applied to analyse the development over time of selected factors correlated with concurrent employee absence rates. Checking for causal results, comparisons with the included published literature findings were also carried out. Findings – Four major clustered factors, three of which constitute the term “social capital”, showed a high degree of connection with employee absence rates. The factors are general satisfaction, fairness, reliance and co-operation. Integrating the four elements in a management framework will provide valuable and holistic information about the determinants with regard to current levels of employee absence. The framework will be a valuable support for leaders with the authority to alter the determinants of employee absence. Research limitations/implications – Since a great part of the empirical material is supplied from the healthcare sector, the results obtained could be restricted to this sector. Inclusion of data from Arbejdsmarkedets Tillægspension (ATP) showed no deviation from the results in the healthcare sector. Practical implications – The product of the study is a decision support tool for leaders to cope with levels of employee absence. The framework is holistic and can prove to be a valuable tool to take a bearing of where to focus future initiatives. Originality/value – Gathering former observational studies in a complete overview embracing many relevant factors that influence sickness absence has not yet been attempted. Hospital management is provided with valuable information when given insight into the factors that control employee absence behaviour. Having this insight will enable the managers to promote a healthy working environment, thus lowering employee absence rates to a minimum.
Journal of Health, Organization and Management, 2013, Vol 27, Issue 1, p. 64-84
Key performance indicators; Sickness absence; Performance measurement; Decision support; Health care; Performance management; Absenteeism; Health services