Absence Short-Term Absences in a Research Proposal

Excerpt from Research Proposal :

Given the large amount of data analyzed by these researchers, though not collected by them or specifically for their research purpose, these findings provide a compelling area for investigation of the transport company's policies and their potential contribution to the rise in absenteeism that they are experiencing. If a change in contracting terms or workforce composition recently occurred, this could be the cause of recent absenteeism trends, and a move to new contract types could also serve as a solution.

Job satisfaction also plays an important role in absenteeism rates and in overall productivity and performance, according to a more recent study of call center workers that found a strong correlation between self-efficacy and more positive perceptions of occupational resources, which in turn led to higher job satisfaction and reduced absenteeism (Consiglio et al., 2010). This is an issue related not only to organizational culture and on-site supervision, occupational tasks, etc., but also to the personality characteristics of individual employees and the social atmosphere and roles of the workforce as a whole (Consiglio et al., 2010). In other words, while improving self-efficacy and job satisfaction can be effective means of reducing rates of short-term absenteeism, actually bringing about these improvements is not something that can be easily managed through any one set of responses, but rather is something that must be built from hiring practices through aspects of employment and organizational culture (Consiglio et al., 2010). Results from this research could prove to be immensely useful in the case at hand if morale and personality issues are identified through research into the transport company.

In addition to long-term issues such as job satisfaction, research has shown that short-term shifts in moods also significantly impacts levels of short-term absenteeism (Christie & Venables, 2011). Though the researchers were primarily comparing short-term absenteeism occurring on specific days of the week, finding that mood differences between Fridays and Mondays correlated quite closely with the different absenteeism rates observed on those days, individual personality and perception of workplace environment were also identified as significant factors in impacting absenteeism rates (Christie & Venables, 2011). Again, the implications for the transport company in question are quite clear and very significant, suggesting that changes in employee morale and possibly in employee make up (i.e. The specific individuals that are a part of the depot workforces) over the past year could very well be a part of the problem of increased short-term absenteeism that has been observed during this period (Christie & Venables, 2011). Improvements in morale would thus equate to improvements in the absenteeism rate, though again these improvements will not b easy to achieve.

Research Design & Methodology

The research compiled in the above literature review was conducted from a multitude of perspectives and utilized a wide range of research designs and techniques, and given the nature of the inquiry at hand it is recommended that a variety of research methodologies be brought to bear on the issue at hand. Rather than attempting to examine the relationship between a pre-identified risk factor and the increased level of short-term absenteeism that has been observed at the transport company, this research must work to identify the risk factor(s) responsible, meaning that multi-focused and mixed methodology research will yield the most useful results as they will be the most comprehensive (Anderson, 2004). A review of company policies and changes should be made along with a retrospective examination of absenteeism rates not only for the workforce as a whole but for individual employees, as well. This should be coupled with surveys distributed anonymously to all employees and more in-depth interviews conducted with randomly selected individuals who agree to participate, with instrument items focused on perceptions of workplace environment, levels of job satisfaction and perceived job importance, measurements of mood and personality, and measures of social perceptions in the working environment. Proper steps to ensure anonymity in responses will be required not only due to ethical guidelines but also to ensure the validity and thus the usefulness of the information, though certain trends of biased responses should also be expected and accounted for (Anderson, 2004).

Through these combined research efforts, a comparison of concrete and quantifiable data -- employment policies/changes to policy and absenteeism rates, primarily -- can be assessed independently and compared to the psychological/personal data collected from employees in the surveys and interviews. Trends can be identified through basic regression analysis and other relatively rudimentary statistical tests, with the survey responses easily coded and quantified in various ways to allow for their comparison with other quantitative data, and with interviews responses likely able to be grouped and partially coded, as well (Anderson, 2004). The interviews can also be used to obtain open responses to questions regarding change sin employment policies or in the work atmosphere, allowing for a fully qualitative assessment of the factors most likely contributing to increased short-term absences.

Following the completion of the data collection and analysis, the researchers should be able to identify more certain and concrete solutions to the identified problems, drawing on the research already conducted in the literature review above and through more focused inquires that deal with the specific problems identified in this particular transport company and its current absenteeism trends. It is likely that some changes to the employment environment and/or to employment policies and employee access to resources will need to be made, as year-long trends such as these are not likely to have simple causes or easy solutions (Mathis & Jackson, 2011). Through the comprehensive research into all areas of operations that impact employee experiences and perceptions, however, there is every likelihood that the researchers will be able to identify problems and solutions for the firm and that the transport company will be able to restore its low levels of short-term absenteeism and maintain a higher level of productivity.

Conclusion

Ensuring employees remain committed to the organization and its goals while maintaining their own mood and indeed their own health in such a way that maximizes their potential is a very delicate balance, and one that requires constant attention. The fact that short0term absenteeism rates have been higher than normal for at least a twelve-month period in this case means that there has been a general lack of attention and/or action to human resource management issues, and it is likely that such issues will be found at the root of the absenteeism trend. Though there may well have been other possibly unavoidable changes that contributed to the rise in absenteeism rates and levels, such long-term and large-scale trends are all but guaranteed to reflect problems in organizational structure and in organizational communication and networks. Whatever the research uncovers, more consistent vigilance and resource commitment to human resource management is definitely called for.

References

Anderson, V. (2004). Research Methods in HRM. London: CIPD House.

Andren, D. (2001). Short-Term Absenteeism Due to Sickness: The Swedish Experience, 1986-1991. Goteborg University Working Paper No. 46

Aria, M. & Thoursie, P. (2005). Incentives and selection in cyclical absenteeism. Labor Economics 12(2): 269-80.

Christie, M. & Venables, P. (2011). Mood Changes in Relation to Age, EPI Scores, Time and Day. British Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology 12(1): 61072.

Consiglio, C., Borgogni, L. & Alessandri, G. (2010). Self-efficacy, job satisfaction and absenteeism. A multilevel study on call centre handlers. 4th International Seminar of Positive Occupational Health Psychology.

Cunradi, C., Greiner, B., Ragland, D. & Fisher, J. (2005). Alcohol, stress-related factors, and short-term absenteeism among urban transit operators. Journal of Urban Health 82(1): 43-58.

Sanders, K. & Nauta, a. (2004). Social Cohesiveness and…

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