A new survey of retail managers has exposed the “corrosive” impact of unplanned staff absences on stores.

For every 10 hours of in-store labour budgeted, more than one hour is wasted due to staffing misalignment caused by unexpected employee absence, the Global Retail Absence Survey of 800 retail managers, including a large proportion of UK grocery and convenience stores, revealed.

In the UK, 74% of retailers claim they are understaffed more than 25% of the time, with UK stores hardest hit by unplanned staff absences over the weekends, the survey by the Workforce Institute at Kronos Incorporated, showed.

In fact in the UK, 44% of retail managers say weekends are the prime time for staff absences.

UK retailers also receive the shortest amount of notice that an employee is not going to show up for work, with 53% saying that they are given just one to three-hours notice.

The impact of filling these shifts on short notice means that one in four retailers also say they are working with staff that have the wrong skills at least half of the time.

Unplanned staff absences lead to a number of operational downfalls, with retailers claiming that staff productivity is hardest hit, closely followed by customer satisfaction and store revenue.

In addition, 33% of UK store managers claim that the challenges of filling vacant shifts at such short notice causes them “unnecessary stress”.

And despite the fact that most retailers say that staff rotas are posted between one and two weeks in advance, 86% end up being amended to some degree after they are published.

Commenting on the findings, Joyce Maroney, executive director of The Workforce Institute at Kronos, said: “Business performance has always been tightly aligned with how well you are able to stick to a plan.

“The corrosive effects of absenteeism can swiftly knock retailers’ plans off course and erode performance potential.

“How you minimise and manage absence is critical to staying on target, and it starts with understanding employee preferences, considering their availability, and making it easy for them to modify their schedule or swap a shift as needed.

“After all, employees who work schedules built around their preferred hours and availability and who are empowered by self-service workforce management technology will be happier, have fewer instances of absence, be more productive, and have a longer tenure.”