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10 Tips For Effective Employee Absence Management

May 25, 2022
10 Tips For Effective Employee Absence Management
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Employees are the backbone of any company. Their performance is critical to the company's success, and it’s believed that keeping them happy and engaged in the workplace can translate to better work output and eventually higher profits for the company. 

Aside from employee engagement, one of the workplace matters some business owners concern themselves with is employee absence. Although it’s normal for employees to be absent and take time off work from time to time, frequent absenteeism among staff members can lead to business loss. 


Common Causes of Absenteeism

There are various reasons why employees would take the day off from work. For instance, the number of absences may rise during flu season because of health reasons. It could also be for a personal day to rest, or perhaps, there could be some personal errands they have to attend to.

While it could be healthy for employees to take a break from work now and then, in some cases, HR departments and business owners grapple with the issue of team members' continuous absences, especially if this has become chronic and out of control. However, there are preventive measures the management can explore to address this. 

That said, here are some tips for effective employee absence management.

1. Find The Root Cause

One of the ways to manage absenteeism among your team members is to reach out to your employees and find the root cause behind their absences. For instance, they might be having personal issues that could be holding them back from focusing and working efficiently. Or, they could be suffering from a physical health condition or could also be because they’re burned out already, and they need a breather. And perhaps, it could be that they don’t find the work environment safe for them.

Getting down to the real reason might be challenging, but your conversation with your employee can help you understand what they’re going through and how to approach the issue better. More so, if the cause of their frequent absenteeism is their mental health, it’d be best to offer them support instead of forcing them to report to work. You can also offer flexible working schedules to make up for the missed work. 

Doing so allows you to proactively respond to the problem while showing your team members that you also care and value their well-being. 

2. Incentivize Attendance

Incentives are one of the ways to enhance employees' morale and keep them excited to work. More so, rewarding and recognizing a team member's efforts can make them feel valued and appreciated, resulting in better work output, high engagement, and motivating them to perform even better. 

To help you with this approach, consider implementing time and attendance management solutions such as Egress Systems. Most management solutions available today can help you better handle scheduling tasks, payroll, bonuses, and overtime tracking that can be partnered with state-of-the-art clocking-in terminals for a more accurate reading. 

There are various ways to show appreciation to your team members. Below are some incentives that you may consider: 

  • Issue certificate of merit to recognize a team member with perfect monthly attendance

  • Allow longer lunch breaks 

  • Reward a cash bonus for employees who have perfect attendance for an entire year

  • Implement free paid day off for anyone who meets the criteria you have set for a certain period; say quarterly or bi-annually

  • Grant a paid time off for those who did not take any sick days for a certain time

  • Give a special gift like an electronic, travel incentive, or gift card

3. Make Your Absence Policies Clear

Ideally, when a team member gets on board, they should be given a clear set of expectations and a set of rules and procedures. This can help them be familiarized with the ins and outs of being part of the company and avoid unnecessary excuses in the future. 

Setting a performance expectation through a sit-down conversation on the team member's first day at work will set the tone and clarify unclear policies. The policy should include how to report absences, whom they should report to, and if they need to acquire a fit note. 

For instance, some companies, especially those who are on the business's operations side, customer service, and retail industry, they’d need 100% of the workforce to operate. Otherwise, the work may be compromised due to understaffing. As such, these companies require a time allowance for a team member to call in and report their absence. And in general, at least eight hours is necessary since the lack of one team member needs to be replaced, and looking for a replacement could be very challenging at short notice. 

In addition, in some cases, staff would call in sick due to a transmissible illness. As such, most companies require a fit-to-work note or a medical clearance before they can resume work to protect other team members. 

Making your policies clear and communicating them effectively can provide a good set of directions for the entire team and help ensure inappropriate behaviors have repercussions.

4. Grant Schedule Requests

Employees have social lives too, and they are entitled to enjoy the fruits of their labor by taking a personal day off. It could be because they’re going on a trip, attending events, or watching a concert. It's a semblance of work-life balance that will benefit their mental health. 

So, if a team member submits a request, consider giving it a look. An occasional request for a day off on a specific weekend or two days off following each other shouldn't be too difficult for the operations, especially if it was advised for at least two weeks. That said, you can still make necessary adjustments to manage the operations. 

Granting occasional requests can make employees feel that they are heard and won't resort to lying for absences just to be allowed a personal day off.


5. Allow Flexible Scheduling

A straight graveyard or straight morning shift for a month can be detrimental to an employees' physical and mental health. So, allowing flexible scheduling can enable them to reset their circadian rhythm and not suffer long-term illness due to grave working hours. 

Sleep is a vital part of one's wellness. A disrupted sleep cycle can increase sleep deprivation and affect one's sleep quality, resulting in mood disorders and may affect work productivity. A rotational shift can greatly help team members' performance and limit absences due to illness. 

6. Combat Source Of Office Stress

Work chemistry is a significant aspect of a company's dynamics. For instance, there may be instances wherein some employees would prefer to skip work than go to work with somebody they don’t get along with. Employees who do not work along with others could be a source of stress in the workplace, and addressing this concern should be one of your priorities. 

Another source of office stress could be the office environment. The workplace might be too cramped, hot or too cold, resulting in illnesses and an uncomfortable situation for many. 

7. Offer Child Care Vouchers

Some employees' absences can be due to their inability to leave their children behind. To address this, you may offer child care vouchers so your employees can have peace of mind knowing that they can be at work and not worry about the safety of their children. 


8. Allow For Shift Swaps

On short notice, instead of being absent, consider allowing a team member to swap schedules with another to not affect the operations. This way, you can also foster teamwork and camaraderie among your team.

9. Duvet Days

There are times when you just can't seem to function and get up, not for being lazy or being sick with something but just lacking the motivation to be productive.

So, to prevent the occurrence of employees calling in sick even if they weren't, some companies formulated duvet days, which are essentially taking time off without advance notice. Duvet days don't require an excuse for the absence, but employees need to notify their immediate superior about it. 

It’s common to feel apathetic from time to time. So, it would be great to know that if this ever happens to you, you can get some time off and take care of yourself to make things better and be more energized after you have rested enough.


10. Tie Salary To Attendance

Annually, companies conduct performance evaluations and reviews to assess if team members fulfill their job responsibilities to expectations. Performance reviews can also be a basis for merit increases. Attendance for most organizations is part of each team member's KPI, and this could affect one's merit increase if found to be insufficient.  

If team members know that their salary increase would partly be dependent on their ability to show up at work, chances are, they may exert more effort to ensure that they do not have absences that are not valid.

Final Words

Managing a group of a diverse workforce can be challenging. However, having a system in place and with open communication, a workplace will thrive. Additionally, it will also result in better output and productivity for any organization.

Absences are inevitable but can be manageable under the right circumstances. Employees should be given the right tools to function at their best, and this includes their well-being and their ability to balance their work and personal life. 

And as such, as the leader of the company, considering the tips detailed in this article could be a good place to start. Doing so allows you to care for your team while steering your company in the right direction.



About Author: This article is written by our marketing team at HR Cloud. HR Cloud is dedicated to providing powerful solutions for your HR teams and creating an exceptional employee experience. Our aim is to help your company improve employee engagement, onboarding, and to save you valuable time!

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