Having an effective employee absenteeism, time, and attendance policy is vital to the success of any organization, regardless of size and industry. One major component of a successful employee time & attendance policy will be guidelines and company expectations in regards to how employees absenteeism is addressed.

Setting rules as to how, when and what is an acceptable level of absenteeism, and then communicating this information to your workforce is only one critical step. Next, is holding employees accountable through successful implementation of your policy.

For most organizations implementation is a problem area. Not enforcing your policy at all wastes time and money that was invested in creating and communicating the policy. Not enforcing our policy consistently will have a large scale and long term negative impact, deteriorating staff moral, lowering productivity, erode profits and even incur a costly lawsuit.

To help your organization manage staff absenteeism follow Celayix’s five steps solution,

1. Start Tracking

It’s critical to accurately capture and track employee data. Be sure you have systems in place that can’t be disputed by employees. There’s nothing worse than sitting down in four or five months time with an employee and getting into an argument over whether or not they were sick that day. Employee time missed due to absence can now be collected easily via the phone or Internet and then imported into your scheduling or time & attendance software for future retrieval.

2. Look for the Pattern

Typically employees that are abusing absenteeism will have a pattern that will show through over time. Is the employee typically not available for scheduled shifts the day or after a long weekend, previously booked time-off, or when workflows within the organization increase? Finding a pattern to the employees absenteeism will help to build a case for discipline, and may deter an employee who is abusing time-off due to illness.

3. Investigate With Care

When addressing employee time missed due to illness it’s important to collect the appropriate data before making any accusations. These meetings can be uncomfortable for some employers, as they worry about being perceived as disciplinary and controlling, diminishing trust and respect between employee and manager.

Take a compassionate approach, see this meeting as a way for you to reach our to the employee and see if there is anything you can do to help them miss less scheduled work time. You may be surprised what information an employee will relay, and the positive response and change you see in future behavior.

4. Set Goals

Employers often set themselves up for disappointment when they expect to correct the problem and see a change in the employees attendance after initially addressing the problem. In most instances it is advisable to follow a progressive disciplinary process, setting clear expectations and goals for the employee. Be sure to communicate not only consequences of future missed shifts, but the negative effect their poor attendance is having on fellow coworkers, and the organization as a whole.

5. Document, Document, Document

Whatever steps you take be sure to document and store data appropriately. After a meeting with an employee enter your meeting minutes into your workforce management software, and in a formal letter to the employee. Too often employers find themselves faced with a lawsuit from a disgruntled or terminated employee. Proper documentation is a key component to building a case and justifying your actions were fair and warranted.

Most important is consistency. Not being consistent with employees in this process will set a perception of weakness, favoritism and disrespect for the leadership team among your workforce. Be sure to have your management or supervisory team working together, doing so will expedite goals set to lower absenteeism among employees.