According to a survey from CCH, Inc., unscheduled absences were at a five-year high of 2.4 percent in 2004, up from 1.9 percent in 2003. And with only 38 percent of these absences being attributed to personal illness, and 23 percent being attributed to family issues, it appears more and more people are absent for non-traditional reasons, reports Circadian Technologies.

For example, many employees feel that it is wasteful to not use all their sick days. So they use them to have a day off from work. Others cite increasingly demanding workplaces, saying they feel burned out and need to take mental health days, according to Circadian.

Absenteeism levels are more than double for extended-hours employees than they are for daytime employees. And the direct costs of absenteeism per an employee are $2,102 more per year for extended-hours employees than for traditional daytime employees. Furthermore, taking into account other often overlooked effects of absenteeism — such as poor performance and employee resentment for covering for unscheduled absences —absenteeism can be a major problem for a business.

Reducing and controlling absenteeism can be achieved, however, says Circadian. For example, a recent Circadian study that shows employees have lower absenteeism rates when they are involved in the schedule selection process and can claim ownership over it.