AuthorBuzeti, Jernej
  1. Introduction

    Employees may be absent from work due to leave, training, business trips, tardiness, illness, injury, to care for family members, etc. Reasons for absenteeism differ (Johns, 1997; Evans and Palmer, 2000; Ones, Viswesvaran and Schmidt, 2003; Allebeck and Mastekaasa, 2004), and the time component (duration) extends from the shortest possible absence (tardiness, time for lunch) to the maximum possible absence (extended sick leave or disability). It is therefore necessary to be aware that when talking about absence from work, reasons for absence may differ, and that with this in mind, an appropriate definition of absence from work should be used. In cases where employees are absent from work due to personal illness or injury or to care for family members, their absence is treated as temporary from the temporal point of view, and the term temporary absence from work is used. Other terms for temporary absence from work can also be found in the literature, such as medical absenteeism, absenteeism, temporary inability to attend work, etc. Cascio (2003) claims that absenteeism means the inability of a worker to stay at work as planned, regardless of the reason. Lokke, Eskildsen and Jensen (2007) explain absenteeism as the lack of the physical presence of an employee at a certain location and at a time when social expectations towards the employee exist, namely that the employee will appear at the expected location and within the agreed-upon time.

    Using data [1] from the National Institute for Public Health (hereinafter NIPH) the research found that the share of temporary absence from work in Slovenia declined from 4.18% in 2009 to 4.08% in 2013 (and that it continues to decline (see Table 1). The share for 2012 is an exception; however, looking at the number of calendar days lost it seems that even in 2012 fewer calendar days were lost due to temporary absence from work compared to previous years (NIPH, undated).

    Statistics for Slovenian public administration reveal the following shares of calendar days lost due to temporary absence from work: 6.8% in 2013, 8.5% in 2012 and 4.2% in 2009 (Table 1). Comparing the NIPH [2] statistics on temporary absence from work from throughout Slovenia with the statistics for public administration, the share of days lost due to absence in the public sector can be seen to be higher and to have effectively grown [3] from 2009 to 2013. The data for public administration confirms that a larger number of calendar days are lost in this sector due to temporary absence. This finding is not surprising, since in all other countries figures for temporary absence from work are higher for the public sector (public administration) than for the private sector.

    In our opinion the reasons behind the higher rate of temporary absence from work in Slovenian public administration are multifaceted; Lokke, Eskildsen and Jensen (2007), Allebeck and Mastekaasa (2004), Evans and Palmer (2000) (among others) share the same opinion. At the same time, we feel that the most influential factors behind temporary absence from work are of an 'informal' nature and as such are often 'hidden'. These factors include inadequate psychosocial working conditions (bad relations among co-workers or with executives), the approach of a public administration organization's management, management's behavior towards employees and in some cases poor physical working conditions (Rajbhandarya and Basu, 2010; Robertson and Flint-Taylor, 2009; Bourbonnais et al., 2005; Allebeck and Mastekaasa, 2004; Lowe, Schellenberg and Shannon, 2003; Kivimaki et al., 2000).

    The present article has the following objectives:

    * To discuss/analyze leaders' temperaments impact on temporary absence of public employees; and

    * To analyze the complex relationship between the extent (number of days/number of occurrences) of temporary employees' absence and leaders' temperaments in Slovenian public administration.

    The main purpose of the paper is to show the impact of leaders' temperaments on temporary absence from work in public administration and to use the survey results to argue the importance of leaders' temperaments in the context of reducing temporary absence from work in public administration.

  2. Methods

    The study, which culled data from Slovenian public administration in February 2015, examined whether a leader's temperament affects temporary absence from work. Due to the high degree of temporary absence from work in public administration, there was an assumption that specific reasons linked to leadership exist in this particular working environment which contribute to the high share of absence. Proceeding from this assumption, the research focused on leaders, specifically on their temperament, as the researchers felt it would make sense to seek the causes for temporary absence from work in leaders' attitudes.

    The study was based on Ekstrand's (2015) view that an individual has one dominant temperament and one sub-temperament. Both temperaments were educed from an analysis of the survey responses. The respondents gave answers on a scale of one to five to express the extent to which their leaders displayed the listed personality traits; the latter were defined as pairs of oppositions, with each pole falling within one of the temperament categories. Table 2 shows the personality traits used to define each temperament category.

    Some personality traits fit the characteristics of more than one type of temperament [4] (Table 2), and this also had to be taken into account in the research (for example, openness can be characteristic of both sanguine and choleric temperaments).

    2.1. Instrument

    As part of the research and data analysis, quantitative research and methods were used to obtain reliable and verifiable results or findings. Data for the study were collected with a web questionnaire created using the 1ka online tool. Firstly, all highest representatives of public institutions (ministers, mayors, etc.) in Slovenia were contacted via e-mail (and telephone) and a Web questionnaire was then sent to highest representatives who then sent it to their employees. The empirical data were statistically processed using the SPSS software tool and Microsoft Excel. The questionnaire was structured into three sets of questions:

    * Six short open- and close-ended questions about the socio-demographic characteristics of the respondents: such as the organization where they are employed, their area of work, gender, year of birth (age), level of education and length of service at the current organization;

    * Questions about temporary absence from work. This set contains seven short open- and close-ended questions intended to assess the occurrence of temporary absence from work in the past 12 months, reasons for absence and the frequency of temporary absence from work in the past 12 months measured as the number of days and number of occurrences (how many times) of absence; and

    * A set of questions that includes eighteen pairs of personality traits, each pair consisting of two opposite poles of traits. Survey respondents assessed, on a scale of one to five, the extent to which each trait describes their own personality and their leader's personality. The pairs of personality traits [5] were listed in random order. When forming the pairs of personality traits attributed to the four types of temperaments, theoretical knowledge about temperament from a number of different experts was consulted (Eysenck and Eysenck, 1985; Littauer and Littauer, 1999; and Ekstrand, 2015).

    2.2. Research target group

    In the framework of this paper, public administration is understood as all those organizations that are part of the decision-making process on public issues or which participate in the management of public affairs. Public administration therefore encompasses state administration (government offices, government departments, and administrative units), local community administration and holders of public [6] authorities. Employees throughout...

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