If you struggle with absenteeism in your organization, time, money and productivity are all being drained as long as it continues. Some level of absence will always occur, but there are certainly some steps you can take to tackle absenteeism starting today!
What is Absenteeism?
1) DEVELOP AN ABSENCE POLICY
If absenteeism occurs frequently, it might be down to the lack of rules and regulations around it. If you want to tackle absenteeism, the best place to start is with an absence policy. Your policy should make it very clear to employees what is expected of them, and what will not be tolerated. When establishing your policy, clarity is the golden rule. Avoid any ambiguity or loopholes that employees could take advantage of. A great place to start is defining what constitutes absenteeism vs. irregular, explained absences.
Your absenteeism policy should include:
- Definition & examples of absenteeism
- The method used for tracking attendance (if you have one, which you certainly should)
- An overview of the disciplinary action towards attendance infractions
- Standards on punctuality, breaks and check-in/check-out
- Examples of excused, unpaid absences such as bereavement & unavoidable emergencies
- Difference between approved, paid absence vs. unexcused absence
- Details on paid leave, and a clear procedure for requesting time off
Create the policy, and then focusing on distributing it so that everyone is aware. Having an absence policy is of no benefit if your employees don’t know about it. Also, check with them that they understand everything. It is also important to continually review and update your absence policy in line with business needs.
2) IMPROVE EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT
Motivation and employee engagement are huge contributing factors to workplace absenteeism. When staff become disengaged at work, they often engage in absenteeism. One of the best ways to motivate employees is to put time into employee communication, motivation and leadership. Communication is critical, particularly when dealing with disengaged and unmotivated employees. They often feel alone and unsupported without enough communication from management, feeding their existing issues. Everything from how you communicate, to how often you communicate is important.
Incorporating motivation into the workplace is pretty easy, and very effective in improving productivity as well as helping tackle absenteeism. Find out what motivates your employees, show appreciation for them and the work they are doing, and encourage stress relievers such as vacation days. By promoting vacation days, you can effectively make absenteeism something you can control. You get notice for when employees will be absent and can manage your employees effectively to cover their workload.
3) ELIMINATE WORKPLACE BULLYING
Have you ever considered that your employees may be engaging in absenteeism due to workplace bullying? Every year, 79.3 million employees are affected by workplace bullying, yet most employers are confident that it doesn’t happen in their organization. Ignoring workplace bullying leads to much higher levels of absenteeism, so fixing the issue at the root will certainly help. Here are actions you as an employer can take, to actively discourage workplace bullying and in turn, tackle absenteeism:
- Educate your staff on all aspects of bullying; (what constitutes bullying, what do to if they are the victim, what to do if they witness it, etc.)
- Ensure your anti-bullying policy is up to date, and that all staff are aware of and familiar with it
- Train HR managers to deal with bullying complaints
- Educate managers & employees on how to recognize bullying in the workplace
- Provide information on support groups, counseling, and other helpful resources
- Once bullying is brought to your attention, acknowledge and act upon it ASAP
Although this certainly isn’t an overnight job, the sooner you can show your employees that you are aware of and working to prevent workplace bullying, the sooner they will feel supported.
4) PROVIDE FLEXIBILITY & AUTONOMY
A huge contributor to workplace absenteeism is a lack of work-life balance. As an employer, providing flexibility and autonomy over the work schedule is a sure-fire way to tackle absenteeism. Absenteeism often occurs due to stress and burnout, which are related to employee scheduling. Allow employees to contribute to their own schedule, and you will likely see some positive responses.
Hourly workers are often overlooked when it comes to workplace flexibility. Where other employers might allow employees to work from home, or condensed work weeks, hourly workers often don’t have these options. Industries such as security, home healthcare, long-term healthcare, and manufacturing require their workers to be on-site, so that eliminates the idea of flexible work locations. So what’s left? Flexible scheduling. Whether you want to allow employees to submit their availability, allow them to self-schedule, or to bid for shifts, offering some form of autonomy is a great place to start.
5) TRACK EMPLOYEE ABSENCES & ACT
The final tip we have for you to help you tackle absenteeism is to make sure that you are efficiently tracking all employee absences. Once you start working on the above tips, you will want to monitor your success. Before you make any changes, find out how big your absenteeism problem is – use this simple formula to calculate it:
((# of unexcused absences)/total period) x 100 = % of Absenteeism
Now, you can monitor your progress as you work to tackle absenteeism in your workplace. It is also crucial to monitor absences for each employee/manager to help identify serial offenders. Those who frequently engage in absenteeism might be having personal issues, so taking this time will allow you to support those employees who need it most. Identifying these repeat absences may also help you determine other issues within your organization that might be contributing to absenteeism.
Although these are 5 steps you can take to reduce absenteeism today, the issue will not disappear overnight. Reducing and maintaining a low rate of absenteeism takes continuous effort and commitment from management. Enforcing these measures will set you up for success, and you will see absenteeism decline steadily. This will then create a domino effect, as engagement and morale increase, fewer people will likely engage in absenteeism at all!