Marlies Hagge

Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Dr. Ron Van Houten

Second Advisor

Dr. Bradley Huitema

Third Advisor

Dr. Richard Malott


absenteeism, graphic feedback, reduction, employee praise

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Open Access


Employees’ attendance is fundamentally relevant for running a successful business. However, in many companies absences far exceed the national average of about 3% and pose a significant problem to the company’s overall success. This study compares the effectiveness of different low-cost behavioral interventions in order to increase attendance and specifically decrease the amount of avoidable absences from 6.3% overall absenteeism during baseline. Participants include 45 unionized custodians in 6 groups at a large Midwestern university. Interventions were introduced for 4 of the groups while the remaining 2 groups served as a control. Treatments evaluated include public recognition for perfect attendance, group graphic feedback on absenteeism and a return to work-interview with the returnee employee. The study introduces the different interventions via a counterbalanced multiple baseline design across groups. The data were collected by the payroll system over the span of about 30 weeks including baseline. The results show that attendance can be increased without costly interventions. The public recognition intervention reduced absenteeism on average by 39% compared with baseline while combined with graphic feedback it reduced absenteeism by 28% compared with baseline. The data showed that 77% of the participants decreased their average rate of absenteeism during the public recognition intervention by 72% and 62% of the participants improved their absenteeism rate by 68% under public recognition and graphic feedback condition. The control groups did not show any change or trend during the study.