Absenteeism is a productivity killer. No matter how good the person is when they are at work, their overall productivity can never reach 100%. Unfortunately, where we have a competent member of staff, we tend to excuse their lack of attendance.
Unplanned absences cause a lot of problems to the employer. Firstly, the person is absent. Secondly, someone has to pick up the work. Thirdly, the people that do turn up to work become resentful and their productivity is negatively affected. So unplanned absences create bad feeling in the workplace. There is a case for a baseline measurement of productivity which is the outcome of the number of days missed through unplanned absences as a percentage of total available days.
For example, if the average working year comprises forty-seven weeks and there are five working days per week, the total available days in the year would be 235. Let's say that a member of staff has 25 days off on unplanned absences in a year. If we divide the 25 by the number of available days and multiply by 100, we have an absentee rate of 10.64%. That means that they have over 10.5 days away from work every hundred days. Given this sort of absentee rate, no matter how they perform when they are at work, they can never reach 100%. If we take the 10.64% away from 100, we are left with a figure of 89.36 which could be used as the baseline measurement of productivity. When you think of it, when a person is away on unplanned absence their productivity is zero. Would you employ someone who could only give you 90% of their time? After all, this is what you're buying through wages. Attendance, skill plus the ability to use your equipment to make a profit.
I may be old-fashioned, but I think that anyone in the workplace who only gives you 90% of the available time should be given the message that their productivity is abysmal. Furthermore, they should give a clear undertaking that their attendance, productivity and performance will increase substantially to maintain their employment.
So, in summary, people with bad attendance records are of little value to your workforce, and on some occasions they can be a serious financial liability. All this discussion about productivity does not include what they actually achieve whilst they are at work. This is another completely different subject.