5 Ways to Cure Absenteeism

Posted by on Monday 5 May 2014

High absenteeism not only affects company morale, it affects the bottom line for any business. There are ways you can lower the rate of employee absences, and cut down on the high costs associated with them, without having to resort to termination. We offer managers some insight on changing employee behavior in this article.

1. Proactive Recruitment

When hiring workers, pay special attention to verifying their previous employment histories and attendance. During the interview phase, ask guided questions which will gauge the potential hire’s attitude towards missing work. Draw up employment contracts that specify the job description being hired for and clearly outline your absenteeism policy. Having the prospective worker sign the contract after reading and understanding the policy will ensure you have something to work from if absenteeism becomes an issue.

2. Flexible Scheduling

Many managers are finding the addition of flexible scheduling drastically cuts down on absenteeism in the workplace, if it’s implemented properly. Custom-designed work schedules and the allowance to work from home if possible may form predictable work habits that can be relied upon. If proper accountability systems are in place, a more flexible work environment has the potential to be more beneficial, not just for the overall profitability of the company, but for the customer base as well. Today’s work environments are based on a 24/7 work pattern more than ever before, so having employees working more flexible schedules and creating a better balance between their home and work lives may be an actual boon to the company.

3. Positive Reinforcement

Every company has some sort of attendance policy in place, whether it’s strictly enforced or only loosely followed. Emphasize the importance of proper attendance, and focus on the importance of everyone’s attendance as much as possible. If you apply tangible actions to the attendance policy people are more likely to respect it. Some ways might be to offer small perks and bonuses for steady attendance after a week, month, year etc. Positive reinforcement can encourage workers to strive for better attendance, especially when it’s recognized as a “real” policy.

Conversely, micromanagement can be a complete detriment and increase absenteeism drastically. As a manger, you have to be on top of absences and call people to task when they’re unjustified, without being overbearing or questioning those with valid reasons for being away. Micromanaging the absentee rate can cost you even the good employees in the long run.

4. Communication

Communication is an important key to lowering absenteeism rates in the workplace. Is there a particular manager or managers for whom attendance is a bigger problem than others? Investigating their higher numbers may turn up answers that are surprising. If certain employees are showing higher absentee rates than others, take them aside and ask them how you might help; there may be childcare or transportation issues that are easily rectified, or other issues the employee may feel helpless about that a good manager can easily overcome.

An open door policy is a critical part of effective communication in decreasing employee absenteeism. If you create an environment where you’re easily approachable, people are more likely to speak about their issues rather than simply calling in sick. By the same token, being firm and sitting down to talk with employees who have missed a lot of work is also required. Being too lenient or not following up will create an atmosphere conducive to many absences and give the air of a lack of professionalism.

5. Teambuilding

Dissention among employees and managers can severely impact the absenteeism rate of a company and negatively affect business practices. Stress, negativity and rumors can all be factors which can be virtually eliminated by effective teambuilding. Build teams who are responsible for planning and problem-solving. When employees feel they have a hand in the decision-making processes for the company they work for, they tend to have a vested interest and higher morale. Effective teambuilding must have leaders who are facilitators and level-headed rather than dictatorial. In a team environment, everyone’s strengths are emphasized and utilized for a common goal, which can detract from negativity and harsh competition. People working in an effective team environment also have an increased sense of responsibility since their contributions are required and tend to have lower absenteeism rates.

As a manager, there are many solutions to improving the absenteeism rates in your firm without having to resort to termination. Begin with investigating any possible issues surrounding the absences and systematically implement changes which will encourage employee participation. Take proactive measures to reinforce good attendance, and build effective teams which will put responsibility in the hands of your employees. Communicate effectively with your workers to ensure their needs are being met, and you’re addressing issues early on before absenteeism becomes an expensive habit.

Being a good manager is one of the most important ways to cure employee absenteeism, and keep morale high within your company. Review your company’s stats, and develop a policy for absenteeism that is followed yet encourages workers to take responsibility for their actions. Make sure to enforce the policy with positive action when possible and with appropriate consequences when it’s not. Following these helpful tips will help you reach your goals to lower absenteeism.

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