Open Journal of Social Sciences, 2018, 6, 1-14
ISSN Online: 2327-5960
ISSN Print: 2327-5952
10.4236/jss.2018.68001 Aug. 2, 2018 1 Open Journal of Social Sciences
Staff Absenteeism: The Case of Wa Municipal
Education Office of the Ghana Education Service
Hafiz Bin Salih
Coordinator, Second Cycle Schools, Wa Municipal Education Office, Ghana Education Service, Wa, Ghana
Work absence is a critical practice in the world since the
of workers in the workplace is essential to attaining the aims of any depart-
ment or institution. As a result, the management might fail to realize its tar-
gets. Thus, this paper will enlarge the understanding of the field by checking
the matter at the Wa Municipal Education Office as the case analysis. Absen-
teeism impacts the general work productivity, and, consequently, can be
thought of as the antithesis of output because productivity is zero through
times of absence. Even though the consequence of personnel absenteeism on
output is certain, some institutions might dismiss the need to assess their
Absenteeism, Staff, Management, Productivity, Strategies
Work absence is a serious practice on the globe since consistent attendance of
employees at the workplace is critical to accomplishing the goals of any institu-
tion or department. Scholars link employee absenteeism to backlogs, low prod-
uctivity, and work delay . This issue arises when workers fail to report to work
as scheduled. Hence, it does not include individuals who do not appear on the
job on approved days of absence or during suspensions, vacations, strikes,
weekly rests, and holidays. Organisations tend to make adequate preparations
for these forms of absence as a way of managing their potential negative impacts.
Consequently, such absences provide immense benefits to the employee and the
firm. It is worth mentioning that people who quit without informing their em-
ployers are considered absentees until the management officially removes them
How to cite this paper:
Salih, H.B. (2018
Staff Absenteeism: The Case of Wa Muni
ipal Education Office of the Ghana Educ
Open Journal of Social
July 9, 2018
July 30, 2018
August 2, 2018
Copyright © 201
8 by author and
Research Publishing Inc.
This work is licensed
under the Creative
Commons Attribution International
License (CC BY
H. B. Salih
10.4236/jss.2018.68001 2 Open Journal of Social Sciences
from the payroll.
Absenteeism can be classified based on the reasons that prompt employees to
miss work. Absenteeism often occurs because of low commitment by the admin-
istration, illnesses, and dissatisfaction with the job . However, failing to report
to work because of family and health issues are usually unavoidable and abrupt.
Hence, the management might not have measures of addressing the issue of staff
adequacy during such circumstances. Scholars classify unscheduled absenteeism
into involuntary and voluntary absenteeism . The latter type of absenteeism
arises when a worker fails to go to work due to an unsatisfactory reason, whereas
the former one occurs when acceptable circumstances, such as diseases, prompt
an individual to miss work. The classification of absenteeism into voluntary and
involuntary allows administrations to choose the most acceptable measures to
address the problem.
2. Statement of the Problem
Staff absenteeism is a major problem that affects many sectors of the economy. It
leads to a considerable cost to any institution, even when the administration
does not pay the absent employee . The issue of staff absenteeism is impacting
negatively on the activities of the Wa Municipal Education Office of the Ghana
Education Service. This problem occurs since the work becomes disorganized
and schedules are delayed. Consequently, the organization may fail to achieve its
goals or meet its delivery dates. To exacerbate matters, sick pay significantly in-
creases the cost of absenteeism. Hence, individuals, businesses, and state agen-
cies should strive to minimize the occurrence and cost of staff absenteeism .
For instance, the provision of weekly rests and recuperation, suitable housing fa-
cilities, adequate compensations, and appropriate working conditions may play
an important role in addressing this widespread problem. Hence, enhancing the
workers’ working and living conditions is critical.
There are no official statistics regarding the cost of staff absenteeism to Gha-
na’s economy. However, findings from other parts of the planet may provide in-
valuable insight into the issue. For instance, the United Kingdom lost billions of
dollars after employees in the country failed to report to work for a total of 137
million days in 2016 . Besides, the issue cost businesses in the region an an-
nual loss of one week per person. Likewise, high absenteeism in Wa Municipal
Education Office adversely impacts the implementation and maintenance of its
programs and functions.
Clearly, the Wa Municipal Education Office of the Ghana Education Service
often finds it exceedingly challenging to reduce the degree of staff absenteeism,
lower administrative costs, and increase employee productivity. However, this
issue adversely affects the economic and social growth of a country . Scholars
maintain that employee absenteeism contributes to significant costs to the
economy and businesses. Accordingly, the management of the Wa Municipal
Education Office of the Ghana Education Service and other state agencies should
H. B. Salih
10.4236/jss.2018.68001 3 Open Journal of Social Sciences
strive to accomplish their strategic objectives and goals by implementing meas-
ures that effectively reduce the rate of absenteeism. Moreover, they must seek to
address employees’ needs to ensure that they support the vision and mission of
the agency, department, or organization. Overall, managing staff absenteeism is
a challenging task.
Staff absenteeism is indeed a challenging issue to the top management of the
Wa Municipal Education Office of the Ghana Education Service.
3. Background of the Study
3.1. Causes of Absenteeism
Work absence, which can be involuntary or voluntary, arises from various is-
sues. Research proves that absenteeism is a multifactorial phenomenon . Re-
searchers mainly attribute this problem to health-related issues . For instance,
there is a high probability that smokers, individuals with relatively high body
weight, and people who rarely engage in physical exercises will report signifi-
cantly high rates of absenteeism. Besides, researchers link work absence to de-
mographic and organizational influences, job dissatisfaction, long working
hours, poor leadership, and the lack of employee morale . Therefore, while
involuntary absenteeism mainly arises from health issues, voluntary absence
might be influenced by a wider range of factors.
Most organisations find it problematic to address staff absenteeism because
the management does not realize the complexity of factors causing the problem.
Unfortunately, relatively few organizations conduct research to gain insight into
the causes of work absences within their firms. Furthermore, most studies fo-
cusing on the subject examine the issue of voluntary absence and the health
condition of workers. Nonetheless, Nicholson’s theory of attachment demon-
strates that other factors, such as a person’s maturity and age, contribute to staff
absenteeism . The model suggests that young people report a significantly
high frequency of short-term work absence. Conversely, aged individuals tend to
miss work for relatively long spells. Besides, family responsibilities, minor and
serious health conditions, work-related accidents, long working hours, absences
considered an entitlement, drug use, and personal challenges are some of the key
causes of employee absenteeism. Furthermore, mental or emotional strain re-
lated to the workplace, leisure accidents, reduced morale, unauthorised holiday,
and the lack of dedication contribute to the issue of non-attendance of a person
at work. Hence, firms that report staff absenteeism should strive to address these
3.1.1. Minor Illnesses
The mental and physical wellbeing of an individual is an important determinant
of his or her health status. Indeed, poor mental and physical wellbeing are key
contributors to a high absence rate. Interestingly, many studies focusing on work
absences do not consider the impact of these critical factors on absenteeism.
Scholars often ignore the health of an employee as a cause of absenteeism since
H. B. Salih
10.4236/jss.2018.68001 4 Open Journal of Social Sciences
diseases are categorized in the “involuntary” absence group. However, it is worth
remembering that most organizations suffer from the issue of ‘short-term’ ab-
sences arising from minor illnesses. Consequently, it is important to consider
minor illness an important variable while conducting research on this subject.
Usually, individuals who miss work because of self-limiting conditions such as
minor illnesses are healthy enough to attend to their duties at the workplace.
This observation is consistent with the A-B continuum, which is reported in
Nicholson’s attachment theory . This model suggests that minor health is-
sues would be positioned at the “A” level of the A-B continuum in case a person
offers his or her services in a highly demanding work setting. Conversely, minor
ailments would fall at the “B” side of the A-B continuum if an individual is
healthy and works in a less demanding workplace. Hence, a worker whose con-
dition falls at the “B” end of the continuum “could have” gone to work.
Mental or emotional strain refers to people’s response to the challenge of ba-
lancing certain demands based on their capacity to meet them. Stress is amongst
the most reported causes of long-term staff absenteeism. This issue eventually
causes ill health. American College of Cardiology  maintains that stress is a
negative feeling that leads to dry mouth, shortness of breath, increase in pulse
rate, and other physical symptoms. However, it affects each employee different-
ly; in fact, some workers experience significantly more symptoms compared to
their colleagues. Occupational stress is a person’s view of the demands of the
workplace and his or her ability to perform those responsibilities.
Stress affects many individuals and organisations. However, the management
of many organisations lacks knowledge of the way to address it . Unfortu-
nately, the current literature presents contradictory findings regarding
workplace stress. For instance, some scholars assert that males are more prone to
mental or emotional strain, while other investigators maintain there is a high
prevalence of stress among females. Consequently, scholars find it exceedingly
challenging to predict the trends that will emerge from stress.
Most people only consider the negative impacts of stress on an employee.
However, researchers state that stress also has positive effects on workers based
on the extent of the agent that causes the strain. Previous research on the rela-
tionship between stress and work absences usually assesses the impact of the
emotional strain based on the “acute stress response” (“Flight or Fight” re-
sponse) . This coping mechanism suggests that a person will either “fight”
these workplace demands or choose to “flee”. According to , an employee
with a limited degree of stress may enhance his or her performance. However, an
“unacceptable” level of stress can reduce the individual’s efficiency. Besides, the
strain can affect the person’s initiative and performance and make the employer
unconcerned with the welfare of other people in the organisation. This problem
occurs when the management allows the subordinates, particularly those engag-
ing in a demanding role, little control over the management and performance of
H. B. Salih
10.4236/jss.2018.68001 5 Open Journal of Social Sciences
the job. The issue is compounded by unsafe working conditions or lack of say in
the organisation. Hence, stress can play an important role in the daily activities
of a worker, but an intense level of the strain may adversely impact the em-
Many organisations have not implemented effective measures to prevent
workplace stress. In the meantime,  assert that there is a steady rise in the
prevalence of stress among employees. It is important to notice that many orga-
nisations have comprehensive knowledge of the adverse health impacts of stress.
However, most of them do not implement procedures and policies to address
this issue. In fact, many institutions tend to tackle the problem after facing a se-
rious trigger, such as a reduction in productivity, a rise in the frequency of ab-
senteeism, the enactment of related regulations, or an increase in operational
costs. In order to avoid such adverse effects, organisations should strive to ad-
dress these problems early enough.
An organisation can employ a three-step mechanism to manage the problem
of staff absenteeism arising from stress. Firstly, employers should assess the fac-
tors that are responsible for workplace stress. They can accomplish this goal by
reviewing the set procedures and policies. Secondly, the management should
engage every member of staff in stress management practices to lower the level
of employees’ stress. It should consistently assess the workers’ condition. Lastly,
the administration ought to evaluate the progress of the implemented programs
and processes and make relevant adjustments regularly. This strategy plays an
important role in enhancing future implementations of the appropriate pro-
grams and stress management measures. Nevertheless, businesses must set rea-
listic objectives. Hence, firms should develop strict policies to curb the growing
concern of work absences.
4. Work-Life Balance (WLB) and Staff Absenteeism
Work-life balance focuses on the extent to which employees achieve equal de-
grees of satisfaction and engagement in their personal and social life and work
performance. This factor has a considerable impact on the performance of
people. In particular, individuals who have the capacity to split their time be-
tween their careers and other aspects of life tend to perform better than their
colleagues. A person with a healthy work-life balance assigns a priority to his or
her community duties, household, and work. However, it is exceedingly chal-
lenging for many people to effectively perform these responsibilities.  main-
tains that concentrating on the efficient management of job and other personal
matters is an important aspect of WLB. Accordingly, members of the society
who have the capacity to balance their work-life invest their time and energy to
An increase in the workload of a worker adversely affects the person’s WLB.
Indeed, people view WLB as the assessment of a worker’s capacity to manage the
work, family, and personal responsibilities effectively. However, “balance” is a
H. B. Salih
10.4236/jss.2018.68001 6 Open Journal of Social Sciences
subjective assessment that differs according to people’s views. For instance, a
person may gain satisfaction from spending more time in the workplace, while
another can appreciate having more time at home. Nonetheless, many scholars
concur that relatively long working hours tend to cause family-work conflict,
which contributes to staff absenteeism . Hence, it is important to assess the
extent of working that adversely impacts the work-life balance among employees
at Wa Municipal Education Office.
5. Purpose of the Study
The purpose of this study is to assess the causes and effects of staff absenteeism
at the Wa Municipal Education Office of the Ghana Education Service. Conse-
quently, it will help in understanding the effects of work absence on routine
work. The findings will enlighten human resource managers on the extent of
employee absenteeism and the measures of reducing its prevalence. In his article,
 asserts that scholars ought to conduct comprehensive research on this sub-
ject. Thus, this paper will expand the knowledge of this field by assessing the is-
sue at the Wa Municipal Education Office of the Ghana Education Service as the
case study. The public sector deserves an ample analysis since it offers unique
services to the society. For this reason, the paper will examine the relationship
between workplace absenteeism and service delivery. It is worth mentioning that
scholars have not chosen this place while completing their research. Hence, this
study will provide invaluable insight into the ways of addressing absenteeism in
other municipal education offices in Ghana since they employ a similar struc-
ture. Furthermore, the study will suggest measures for addressing the problem.
The findings may help in enhancing employee productivity and reducing
6. Significance of the Study
The negative impacts of absenteeism determine the importance of addressing
this problem. Work absences negatively impact business growth, productivity,
and operations . The significance of the study is to assess the causes and ef-
fects of staff absenteeism at the Wa Municipal Education Office of the Ghana
Education Service to make informed recommendations to help solve the prob-
lem of staff absenteeism. The study provides an in-depth assessment of the caus-
es and effects of staff absenteeism at the Wa Municipal Education Office of the
Ghana Education Service. It also examines the structures upon which the Wa
Municipal Education Office of the Ghana Education Service has been built and
the worldview upon which staff absenteeism is founded.
The assessment has revealed how the management of the Wa Municipal Edu-
cation Office of the Ghana Education Service feels about dealing with the prob-
lem of staff absenteeism that seems intractable. The findings will, therefore, not
only be adding to existing knowledge on how to deal with staff absenteeism, but
also provide a pathway for dealing with similar issues elsewhere in the country
H. B. Salih
10.4236/jss.2018.68001 7 Open Journal of Social Sciences
and the world at large.
Researchers assert that workplace absenteeism is a major cause of direct and
indirect costs . Hence, this study is of relevance to Government, Educational
administrators, Non-Governmental Organizations, the General Public and other
stakeholders who are concerned with the sustenance and development of formal
education in society. It is hoped that such stakeholders would take a keen inter-
est in working together to bring about progress and development in state agen-
cies and other agencies with similar backgrounds. Although literature abounds
on employee absenteeism, that of staff absenteeism in state-owned educational
institutions in Ghana is scanty if not virtually non-existent. The findings of this
study are documented to prevent the assessment of the causes and effects of staff
absenteeism at the Wa Municipal Education Office of the Ghana Education Ser-
vice from disappearing into oblivion.
This would also serve as a source of historical knowledge for the staff of the
Wa Municipal Education Office of the Ghana Education Service. In fact, lost
work-time makes it challenging for employers to achieve the objective of an or-
ganisation and attain high productivity levels . In this way, the study also
represents an opportunity to reflect on the lessons gathered from the experiences
of the staff of the Wa Municipal Education Office of the Ghana Education Ser-
vice. Consequently, this study sought to explore beyond the already existing
problems so as to unearth new insights and contribute to the existing body of
knowledge in the area of educational leadership and administration.
7. Research Methodology
Research methodology is an essential element of research because it details the
steps taken in conducting a study. The latter facilitates and positively influences
the discipline being studied. The paradigm, approach, and method are ex-
amined. The rationale behind the appropriate choice of procedures and
processes that were applied to achieve the study objectives is therefore explained.
7.1. Target Population
As of June 2018, the study population consisted of 68 staff of the Wa Municipal
Education Office of the Ghana Education Service (48 male and 20 female). The
age range of the staff was between 38 years and 60 years. Also, the work expe-
rience of the staff was between 15 years to 35 years of work experience. The
sample size was 37 staff (27 male and 10 female). Four of the participants were
the heads of their respective departments, namely the Finance and Administra-
tion Department, Human Resource Department, Planning Department and Su-
pervision Department. While all the 7 management members were purposively
sampled, the other participants were selected through simple random sampling.
Participants were both management and staff. Management of the Wa Munici-
pal Education Office of the Ghana Education Service is made up of the Munici-
pal Director of Education, the four Frontline Deputy Directors and some senior
officials at the Municipal office. The researcher used semi-structured interviews
H. B. Salih
10.4236/jss.2018.68001 8 Open Journal of Social Sciences
and a questionnaire to collect data. The researcher also made use of the informa-
tion from the staff attendance register.
7.2. Data Analysis
Data analysis involves the preparation and organisation of data into meaningful
groups, including the search for conceivable patterns and existing relationships.
All item responses were analysed. Data analysis was done based on these re-
1) What causes employee absences in the workplaces?
2) What are management’s assessments of staff absences?
3) Are the existing practices for managing absences effective?
4) What are the best measures to address staff absenteeism?
8. Research Results
8.1. Causes of Employee Absences in the Workplaces
When the staff was asked to indicate the reasons behind their last absence from
work, 64% of them noted non-illness related causes. Absenteeism that was ill-
ness-related consisted of physical and mental illnesses. Non-illness reasons in-
cluded personal issues, family issues, stress, practical issues, looking for another
job, and job dissatisfaction. Issues such as child naming ceremony, funeral occa-
sion and attendance at religious as well as traditional festivals are the main caus-
es of non-illness absenteeism of the staff of the Wa Municipal Education Office
of the Ghana Education service. Sickness and stress were also mentioned as
causes of staff absenteeism.
8.2. Management Assessments on Staff Absences
The majority of management considered absenteeism as costly and negatively
affecting the productivity of the organisation. However, only about half of the
total management indicated absenteeism as a serious concern in the workplace
while less than half of staff considered an absence as an issue of concern for the
Wa Municipal Education Office of the Ghana Education Service. It was therefore
revealed that the problem of staff absenteeism was of grave concern to both
management and staff of the Wa Municipal Education office of the Ghana Edu-
cation Service. The study found that 87% of management agreed that absentee-
ism is costly for the organisation (Figure 1).
The 83% of management agreed that absenteeism negatively affects output
(Figure 2). Moreover, 53% of management noted absenteeism as a serious con-
cern in the workplace (Figure 3). Besides, 44% of staff considered absenteeism
as a serious issue in the workplace (Figure 4).
8.3. The Effectiveness of the Existing Absence Management
Staff usually provides medical notes from physicians. However, only 8% of staff
consider it as an adequate absenteeism management practice. It was revealed
H. B. Salih
10.4236/jss.2018.68001 9 Open Journal of Social Sciences
Figure 1. Management consideration on whether absenteeism is costly.
Figure 2. Management’s deduction on the effects of absenteeism on production.
Management’s conclusion about absenteeism in their workplace.
that the existing practice of asking staff to submit a physician note before being
granted permission to go on sick leave is not an effective mechanism for grant-
ing sick leave to staff. Also, the staff attendance book is not closely supervised by
management hence its existence is not of relevance in curbing staff absenteeism
at the Wa Municipal Education office of the Ghana Education Service.
Management generally understands that health and stress issues contribute to
absenteeism, and 87% noted that (Figure 5). Probably a factor, 44% of employees
H. B. Salih
10.4236/jss.2018.68001 10 Open Journal of Social Sciences
Figure 4. Staff’s conclusion about absenteeism in the workplace.
Figure 5. Staff’s conclusion on whether health and stress issues contribute to
stated that organisations do not create a wellness-supported environment at
workplaces (Figure 6).
The findings revealed that strategies should be implemented to ensure im-
provement in managing the problem of staff absenteeism at the Wa Municipal
Education Office of the Ghana Education Service. Management should ensure
staff receives enough rest periods for the reduction of fatigue. Also, staff should
consider unauthorised absence as an issue of utmost significance, so as not to
compromise the level of commitment required to control absenteeism. Fur-
thermore, clear and sound workplace policies should manage absenteeism, in-
cluding fair and adequate discipline, which is designed to deter employees and
promote a culture committed to lessening absenteeism.
The findings further revealed that the management of the Wa Municipal
Education office of the Ghana Education Service should ensure that sick leave
regulations and the process of presenting medical notes should be well defined
to eliminate confusion on the necessary actions when needed. Additionally, em-
ployees should be counseled as a precondition to disciplinary action. Consistent
disciplinary measures should be implemented. Moreover, habitual offenders
should face appropriate disciplinary consequences henceforth. Meanwhile,
H. B. Salih
10.4236/jss.2018.68001 11 Open Journal of Social Sciences
Figure 6. The staff’s argument on whether the organisation creates a conducive
management should also formulate procedures for investigating absences that
the staff cannot control. Past employee records should be consulted before de-
termining the appropriate course of action. Hence, management should not only
track and measure absenteeism to promote attendance, but also should discuss it
with the employees turning it into a team effort.
Staffs of the Wa Municipal Education Office of the Ghana Education service
who are of the habit of absenting themselves from work do that based on
non-illness issues. The main causes of staff absenteeism relates to issues such as
child naming ceremony, funeral occasion and attendance at religious as well as
Staff absenteeism at the Wa Municipal Education Office of the Ghana Educa-
tion Service affects the overall work productivity, and, thus, can be regarded as
the antithesis of output since productivity is zero during periods of absence. Al-
though the implication of staff absenteeism on output is inevitable, some institu-
tions may ignore the need to review their management practices.
It is instructive to note that measures put in place to curb staff absenteeism at
the Wa Municipal Education Office of the Ghana Education Service are not ef-
Management should isolate predominant causes of absenteeism, identifying legi-
timate incidences, regular offenders, and illegitimate absences enable it to em-
ploy sufficient measures targeting specific factors. Effective policies should be
implemented with the management ensuring that all employees completely un-
derstand such systems. Moreover, the possible repercussions that may follow for
failing to adhere to such policies should be well outlined and explained.
Furthermore, a committee should be made to engage the staff in addressing all
aspects surrounding absenteeism regularly. To ensure that disciplinary records
H. B. Salih
10.4236/jss.2018.68001 12 Open Journal of Social Sciences
and attendance are updated, a timely action should be a priority, enabling man-
agement to make appropriate decisions according to each case of absenteeism.
Attendance incentives should be applied for employees to associate positively for
regularly reporting for duty.
• Staff absenteeism: Unscheduled absence of a person from his or her place of
• Productivity: The deliberate conversion of labour, capital, and other input
resources into the required outputs.
• Strategies: The assessment and directing of the much-needed resources to
accomplish a specific objective or address a critical issue.
• Voluntary absenteeism: The decision of a person to avoid reporting to work
due to unsatisfactory reasons .
12. Limitations of the Study
Factors that are beyond the scope of the person conducting a study may impact
the research. For instance, the paper focuses on the Wa Municipal Education
Office of the Ghana Education Service, which constitutes a major limitation.
Scholars argue that a small sample makes it exceedingly difficult to generalise
study outcomes and conclusions to similar settings and situations. In fact, the
research will include the responses of a few employees due to time constraints.
The short time span will make it extremely challenging to interview all respon-
dents and gather the much-needed information. Similarly, the process of ans-
wering all the questions that will be included in the questionnaire may require
much time, particularly if the respondents do not understand the key terms and
concepts. Besides, the limited scope of information regarding the causes and
impacts of absenteeism may affect the findings. Indeed, having a keen interest in
factors that the management of Wa Municipal Education Office can control may
negatively impact data collection. This issue may occur since other factors that
are beyond the scope of the administrators can reduce productivity and the rate
of absenteeism. Importantly, the subjects may fail to express their views on the
topic frankly, which is likely to contribute to response bias. Hence, a number of
factors associated with the scope of the study and the target audience may ad-
versely impact the research findings.
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