A recent CCH survey found that two-thirds of workers who call in sick at the last minute do so for reasons other than physical illness. The reasons included family issues (22%), personal needs (18%), "entitlement mentality" (13%), and stress/burnout (13%). While employers continue to struggle with the costs of unscheduled absenteeism, the survey found that the absenteeism rate was actually down slightly in 2007 - 2.3% compared to 2.5% in 2006. Employers also noted the suspicious patterns of higher absenteeism on Fridays, Mondays, and days followed by holidays.
As a partial solution, the survey suggested that "work-life programs" such as employee assistance plans, flu shot programs, wellness programs, leave for school functions, and alternative work arrangements may reduce absences. In particular, the survey noted the effectiveness of programs such as paid leave banks (or paid time off), alternative work arrangements, telecommuting, compressed work week, flu shot programs, and leave for school functions.
Interestingly, the survey also noted that 38% of employers said that "presenteeism", employees coming to work sick, is a problem. The CCH survey can be found at: http://www.cch.com/absenteeism2007/.