As the holiday season approaches, employers will see more and more employee absences, which includes both illness and unexplained absences. According to reports from BenefitNews.com, absenteeism can consume as much as 15 percent of a company's payroll. In fact, a 2005 report from consulting group Circadian Technologies states that unscheduled absenteeism costs about $3,600 per hourly employee per year.

According to the article, "ComPsych, an employee assistance program provider, surveyed about 1,300 employees shortly after the 2005 holiday season, and found that 33% were taking days off work, 45% reported a reduction in productivity and 65% were experiencing an increase in stress levels. Intervention efforts did help some, as only 25% of the same group reported taking days off, 34% reported a reduction in productivity, and 31% reported increased stress after receiving treatment."

Many employers have looked to new ways of tracking the amount of time employees are taking off. Some have implemented software programs that track worker absences. Others have looked to more friendly approaches that keep employees at work. This might include worker contests that award gifts, wellness workshops or awards of additional vacation time.

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