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Worker Absenteeism Tied to Hope

American businesses lose $153 billion annually because of employees struggling with chronic health conditions and billions more due to mild illnesses and "family emergencies." What helps employees show up to work more often? One word: hope. In other words, employees who are excited about the company's goals and their own future will miss less work.

That's the conclusion of a research study conducted by management professor James Avey. Avey led a team that studied hope and absences among more than one hundred engineers in a Fortune 100 high-tech firm. Working with the firm's human resource department, Avey surveyed the participants and divided them into high-hope and low-hope workers. High-hope workers understand, get excited about, and feel they can contribute to the company's goals and vision. Over the course of 12 months, the high-hope engineers missed an average of 20 hours of work, or less than three days of work (not associated with planned leaves or vacations), with many of them missing no time at all. Low-hope engineers missed more than 10 days of work each, on average. These employees cost the firm nearly four times as much as their high-hope colleagues in lost productivity due to sick days. No other workplace measure (including job satisfaction, commitment to the company, confidence to do the job) counted more than hope in determining whether an employee would show up.

Possible Preaching Angles: (1) Work; Employers—This certainly applies to work settings. (2) Leaders; Leadership; Vision—It also applies to leadership in general. In other words, do leaders provide the kind of vision and mission that motivates people to contribute to a church or organization? (3) Suffering; Trials—A vision for a positive, hopeful future gives us strength to make it through times of suffering.

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