Bad deal for ‘Generation Squeeze’: Business pays a steep price for higher absenteeism among employees with young children

Paul Kershaw, Vancouver Sun

…. Part of their motivation, I suspect, is the business community already pays a price for the status quo. Employees with young kids bring their time and service squeeze to their jobs. The result is higher absenteeism rates for this group of employees, greater turnover, and increased use of extended health benefits – all of which employers pay for…

Take absenteeism as a starter. Average full-time wages in Canada mean the typical employee earns $213 a day. The employer is out this wage when an employee uses a sick day or is otherwise away from work because of work-life conflict. On top of the wage, there is the daily cost for extended benefits that employers pay, which is conservatively another 10 per cent of salary, or $21.

When someone is absent, colleagues have to fill in, and supervisors take time from what they would have otherwise done in order to manage the unexpected human resource gap. Plus, the company forgoes the profits it expected to earn on whatever labour doesn’t get performed. Together, colleagues’ lost productivity and the company’s lost return on investment in employee wages add up to another 60-65 per cent of the average daily wage, or $128-$138.

This means the total employer cost when an employee misses a day due to work-life conflict is around $370 on average ($213 + $21 + $128-$138).

So how often do people miss days because of work-life conflict? In B.C., there are 265,000 employees with preschool children. Their time, income and service squeeze means they miss three to 3.6 more days per year because of their high levels of work-life conflict compared to people who report less of a squeeze. These data come from Statistics Canada and research from Linda Duxbury and Chris Higgins at the Sprott and Ivey Schools of Business respectively – both of whom are leading researchers about work-life balance.

The 265,000 employees multiplied by 3-3.6 days per year is between 795,000 and 954,000 days lost to absenteeism in our province annually. At a cost of $370 per day, that adds up to between $300-$356 million annually – just in B.C., and just for employees with kids under age six.

Given B.C. is only 13 per cent of the Canadian population, we’re talking about $2.3 billion nationally….