How to Reduce Absenteeism at Work

Employee absences can have a huge impact on the productivity and success of a workplace, and happen for a variety of reasons. Whether it’s a series of absences or continual tardiness, absenteeism is an issue that workplaces should tackle head on.There are a number of ways in which a business can address absenteeism. As well as establishing clear and coherent expectations, a workplace should look inwards to their own practices to see what they’re doing to motivate employees. OpenWorks has gathered some tips for how a workplace can start to handle absenteeism amongst their employees:

Accept the Inevitable Accepting that employees will occasionally be absent or late goes a long way. No workplace can eliminate absenteeism entirely – we’re all human – but acknowledging that team members will need sick days and may occasionally need their employers to be flexible will work to reduce absences.

Set Expectations Make your expectations on employee absences crystal clear. For example, what time must employees arrive by, and when are they considered late? What is the procedure when an employee calls in sick? Having clear, set guidelines laid out in an employee handbook will give both employees and managers something to refer to. A tried to and true method for when employees are sick, for example, is to ask employees to call their supervisor directly. This helps prevent your team from calling in absent unless there is a genuine need.

Track and Monitor Absences Even with clear expectations, workplaces should have a system in place that allows managers to track and monitor the employee absences. Without an established system, it becomes difficult to see which employees have used all of their allotted sick days or PTO. Once you are aware of who has used what, you will be better equipped to deal with unexplained absences.

Accountability Holding employees accountable for absences is key, but so is creating a fostering environment. In many cases, companies opt to hold a return-to-work interview with employees when they come back after an absence. Similar to calling a supervisor when they won’t be coming into work, employees will need to be prepared to give a reason for their absence at a return-to-work interview. It shouldn’t be a disciplinary procedure but should work to create an open environment where employees can share any larger issues with their employers.

Employee Engagement If a workplace wants to reduce absenteeism, they need to look at their company culture and overall employee satisfaction and engagement. Are employees motivated? Are they excited to come to work? A significant factor in absences is the demotivation of employees. Issues such as stress, burn-out and a heavy workload can take a toll on an employee. If this is consistent with your company culture, you should rework your programs from the inside-out to ensure that your team feels that they can thrive at work, as opposed to dreading coming into the building.

Employee Wellness What type of employee assistance program does your workplace offer? For example, if employees have had a long absence due to a medical issue, are they fully equipped and supported enough to return to work? Are the right resources available should they need them? Also consider if your employees are getting enough PTO and sick days. People need time to take a break and switch off from work, or recover from being under the weather. If you know that your PTO is pretty limited, you should think about revising your benefits package – good PTO is an excellent retention tool and goes far to reducing absenteeism.

Flexibility If you have an employee who is constantly late for work, consider offering to change their schedule. Maybe they hit traffic when they try to arrive at a certain time, maybe they have to do drop-offs before they come to work. Sticking rigidly to hard and fast rules means you’re more likely to lose great employees, whereas if you can be flexible with your team you’ll likely find that workplace absences are greatly reduced.

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