How Absenteeism in a Manufacturing Environment Hurts Your Bottom Line

By Joel Sackman 2024

Absenteeism in a manufacturing environment can have a cascading effect on various aspects of operations, leading to increased costs, reduced productivity, and potential damage to the company’s reputation. Addressing absenteeism through workforce management strategies, employee engagement initiatives, and common-sense attendance policies can be crucial in mitigating these negative impacts on the bottom line.  Here are nine key ways in which absenteeism can affect the financial performance of a manufacturing operation:

  1. Production Disruptions and Reduced Output: Absenteeism can lead to a shortage of workers on the production line, resulting in reduced output and manufacturing efficiency. Short-staffed teams may experience more downtime due to delays in addressing issues or adjusting to changing production needs.
  2. Increased Labor Costs – Overtime: To compensate for absent workers and maintain production schedules, companies may need to pay overtime to existing employees or hire temporary workers. This can significantly increase labor costs.
  3. Quality Issues: With fewer workers, maintaining rigorous quality control standards can become challenging, potentially leading to an increase in defective products and associated costs.
  4. Turnover and Onboarding Costs: Frequent absenteeism may result in the need for continuous recruitment and onboarding of new employees, increasing costs and adding to the workload of your HR department. Companies may need to invest in training replacement workers or temporary staff, incurring additional training expenses and increasing the workload on your HR department.
  5. Supply Chain Disruptions: Reduced manufacturing output can lead to delayed shipments and impact customer satisfaction. Late deliveries may result in penalties and damage relationships with clients.
  6. Employee Morale and Productivity: High absenteeism rates can negatively impact the morale of the remaining workforce, leading to decreased job satisfaction and worker productivity. (See How reducing absenteeism can improve employee morale.)
  7. Safety Concerns: A shortage of workers can compromise safety protocols, leading to an increased risk of accidents and workplace injuries. This can result in workers’ compensation claims and associated costs.
  8. Overhead Expenses: Absenteeism may lead to the underutilization of facilities and equipment, contributing to inefficiencies and higher overhead costs.
  9. Customer Satisfaction: If absenteeism affects customer service teams or order processing, it can result in poor service levels and a negative impact on customer satisfaction, potentially leading to lost business.
abstenteesim causes manufacturing headaches - supervisor with tracking pad
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About the Author

Joel Sackman, with degrees from Wharton and the Moore School of Engineering, is a “data visualization designer” and leading voice in the field of workforce optimization. He has been helping companies understand the causes of absenteeism and strategies for reducing it for thirty years. He is the founder and CEO of Metropolitan Software, Inc., an ADP business partner and maker of Attendance Counts.