Academic journal article Journal of Applied Management and Entrepreneurship

True Perceptions of Healthcare Workers during Periods of Absenteeism in the Clinical Setting

Academic journal article Journal of Applied Management and Entrepreneurship

True Perceptions of Healthcare Workers during Periods of Absenteeism in the Clinical Setting

Article excerpt

Healthcare organizations are feeling the effects of financial constraints due to lower third party reimbursement and are beginning to shift more emphasis on higher levels of productivity from key professionals, specifically those in revenue producing positions and who provide direct-human contact (patient-care). Such constraints are those that limit the time spent with patients or the specific treatment procedures that are denied reimbursement. These healthcare professionals are being faced with increasing pressures to perform at exceeded levels (Berry, 2008; Godin & Kittel, 2004; Lovelace, Manz, & Alves, 2007; Piko, 2006; Throckmorton, 2007) such as more patients and faster treatment and may negatively affect patients, patient outcomes, and the overall value of the one-to-one interaction in the patient-practitioner relationship (Horton, 2006). In addition to these pressures, coworker absence appears to amplify these effects.

The experience of being placed under increased stress and pressures to perform in the event of coworker absence is perceived by physical therapists and assistants in different, but also similar ways. In order to fully understand these differences and similarities a qualitative study is necessary. As a sample of the healthcare population, physical therapists and assistants were found to be capable of informing about the "essence" of what is different and similar with regards to work performance under such circumstances.

Prior to an evaluation of the methods and findings of this research, linkages to other topics should be noted. Those topics include absenteeism, motivation, work stress, productivity and performance, and perceptions about expected workplace behaviors.


Absenteeism is defined as the "lack of physical presence at a behavior setting when and where one is expected to be" (Harrison & Price, 2003, p. 204). Absenteeism is a costly problem (Audas & Goddard, 2001; Barmby, 2002; Bradley, Green, & Leeves, 2007). "For companies employing 1000 to 2500 workers, unscheduled absences are estimated to cost businesses up to $1.17 million annually" (Erickson, Nichols, & Ritter, 2000, p. 246). One of the major culprits in helping to decline workplace productivity appears to be that of absenteeism. From a human resource management perspective, Harrison and Price (2003) discussed the relevant literature on absenteeism, covering the nature of this "type of withdrawal, its randomness and patterned tendencies and how it spans across a variety of contexts, including work, college classes, religious services, social club meetings, and so on" (p. 204).

Absenteeism has traditionally been a difficult area to adequately perform empirical research on due to the fact that is has been viewed as "mildly deviant behavior" and entails the review of information which employees or managers are not so willing to disclose (Johns, 2003). Johns (2003) discovered in a review of event history "evidence supporting the strategic scheduling of absence. . .in that the within-person dynamics of absenteeism are neither random nor habitual" (p. 171).

Conti, Angelis, Cooper, Faragher and Gill (2006) presented research that not only strongly supports, but is also highly relevant to this present initiative. Doing work for absent workers was clarified as "the increased pace and intensity that workers experience when performing both their tasks and those of absent colleagues increases physical job demands" (Conti et al., 2006, p. 1029). This hypothesis was also complemented by the induction that resentment has a part in the relationship between workers, present and absent.

Motivation and Self-efficacy

Self-efficacy (Bandura, 1977) was described as having motivational implications and is "developed through the social learning processes... which in turn leads to more productive goal setting" (Gist, 1987, p. 475). To be absent is an action that has underlying motivations with or without regard for what coworkers think. …

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