HR Basics: How to Reduce Chronic Employee Absenteeism

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Employee absenteeism is more than just an inconvenience – it’s costly to employers.

Of course, all employees will get sick and need time off from work occasionally.

Employee attendance, however, is often affected by issues unrelated to illness. Chronic absenteeism can be caused by a number of factors, including poor management, high stress, and low employee morale.

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How to deal with chromic absenteeism

If absenteeism has been an issue for your company, here are some solutions to consider.

  • Emphasize the attendance policy. First things first: give all of your employees a reminder of the company’s attendance policy. Don’t single anyone out; instead, call a brief meeting for the sole purpose of discussing the policy. Mention that you’ve noticed excessive absenteeism lately and explain how poor attendance hampers productivity.
  • Document employee attendance. Keep detailed records of employee attendance. Be sure to document both absenteeism and tardiness. Records should include whether or not the employee called to inform the company of his absence, the reason given for the absence, and the date the absence occurred. Look for patterns over time; does the employee often come in late on Monday mornings? Keeping detailed records allows you to have plenty of information available when taking disciplinary action against the employee in question.
  • Create an inviting atmosphere. Employees who feel uncomfortable at work are more likely to miss time. Thus, creating a welcoming atmosphere can result in improved attendance. First, consider the physical environment. Do employees have comfortable, well-lit work spaces? Is the break area inviting? Beyond the physical atmosphere, you want to create an environment where employees feel valued and appreciated. Consider implementing an employee recognition program to help boost office morale.
  • Ask for feedback. Employees want to feel like their voices are heard and their opinions matter. Periodically elicit feedback from employees in the form of surveys and individual meetings. Additionally, consider implementing an open door policy so employees feel welcome to address concerns with management. Take employee feedback seriously; is there a particular issue that’s frequently mentioned? While it’s not always possible to remedy every situation, look for opportunities to make positive changes.
  • Consider flexible schedules. Many employees are overwhelmed with responsibilities outside of work. Studies indicate that flexible work schedules lead to reduced tardiness, absenteeism, and turnover – and higher employee morale. There are many options for flexible schedules, including telecommuting, job sharing, and flex time.

This was originally published on the Genesis HR Solutions blog.

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