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It has been estimated that employee absenteeism costs the U.S. economy on the order of $40 billion per year. Not surprisingly, great time and effort has been dedicated to research assessing the causes of employee absenteeism with the obvious goal of reducing its incidence in the workplace. It is argued in this article that much of this effort has been of virtually no practical value to the practicing manager. In fact, the prescriptions that would naturally arise from much of this research would almost certainly land managers in the lap of litigation in federal court. Two promising strategies —attention to absence policy and absence culture—are described in this article. Both have the advantage of practical application as well as a distinguished tradition in reducing absenteeism.


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