Employee absenteeism refers to the habitual absence in a workplace by an employee that is typically unannounced and unplanned. Workers will miss work from time to time as there is no ideal workplace that can curb absenteeism. Practices such as buddy punching will make absenteeism hard to notice hence some businesses may not realize absenteeism as a problem before it’s too late. The crucial thing to understand is that absenteeism can be resolved effectively with carefully devised strategies. We will be discussing these strategies so make sure to stick to the end.
What is the cost of employee absenteeism?
Absenteeism creates both direct and indirect costs. As per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), losses in productivity relating to absenteeism cost US employers a whopping $225.8 billion annually. That’s $1,685 per employee.
Direct costs are related to the losses business incur in terms of lost productivity due to the absence of an employee on a particular day. Direct costs may also include bringing in someone to temporally replace an employee to cover their absence or through managing paid overtime and time-off.
When these absences are not noticed, the employer is left paying salaries for work-time that has not been done resulting in poor absence management policies.
Direct costs to employees may include: not being paid time-off or ultimately losing their jobs.
Indirect costs are those that are related to the overall business productivity in a given period. For example, if a particular worker has chronic absenteeism, the other workers are forced to take over their duties which diminishes the productivity of those workers.
Indirect costs have a big impact on the business together with its workforce which affects the overall profits. The effects may lead to work schedules being delayed, deadlines not being met and planned projects falling behind their targets.
How to deal with employee attendance issues
Create clear attendance policies
When it comes to managing employee attendance, even the small things that seem redundant begin to add up. Unexpected absences or missed shifts from individual employees can have adverse implications for your company’s bottom line. That’s why it is important to introduce clear-cut attendance policies within an organization.
An employee attendance policy by definition is a set of rules that are designed to improve productivity and reduce employee absenteeism by setting clear and consistent expectations.
For small businesses, most of which have no HR department, implementing an attendance policy may seem a bit too formal. But as the business begins to scale and more workers are employed, it is crucial to place an employee attendance policy. This will protect you as the employer and help avoid issues with employee relations.
Have tangible evidence of excessive absenteeism
Employees will miss work for a variety of reasons. Gathering evidence on the root cause is crucial to determine how to handle absenteeism. Some of the most common causes of absenteeism include:
Harassment: employees who are often harassed or bullied by their bosses or co-workers tend to miss work to avoid dealing with such situations.
Stress and low morale: heavy workloads, stressful working conditions, and feelings of unappreciation could cause employees to avoid going to work. Stress-related to personal issues could also lead to absenteeism.
Illness and disengagement: medical appointments are a common reason for most employees missing work. Sickness is entirely unavoidable affecting a number of both full-time and part-time employees. Disengagement occurs when some employees are not committed to their jobs and are more likely to be absent from work as they lack the motivation to go.
A smart idea is to set up a biometric time clock systems to keep accurate employee attendance records. An optimal web and cloud based biometric attendance system will allow to diagnose and address employee attendance issues based on tangible evidence of their absence.
Address causes of absenteeism immediately
Employee absenteeism becomes very difficult to address when it becomes an accepted behavior or habit by your workforce. Addressing the issue before the costs start accumulating is an undertaking that should be taken sooner than later.
The first step is enforcing the employee attendance policy consistently to ensure the already developed pattern of absenteeism has been eradicated and action taken. It is important to learn and devise new and effective ways to handle employee absenteeism to solve the problem completely.
No single habit can be crawled out overnight, however proactively handling these situations will always have a positive impact on productivity. Absences will always happen, but when an employee fails to show up for their shift or calls in sick, be sure to address the situation directly and immediately.
On their return, it is advisable to have a conversation with them on the way forward making sure they know if their absence requires a disciplinary action or enactment of a performance plan.
Diagnose the underlying issue
In a workplace environment, there are various valid legal reasons for employees to extend their absences such as ADA and FMLA regulations. For other absence reasons the business has to decide what actions and responses to take.
If you start to notice a pattern of an employees’ habitual absence from work, you should call it out. Converse directly with them asking why they have absences on certain workdays, using documentation as evidence to point out specific dates and times to see how they will respond.
Other external factors outside of work may also be impacting the employee’s attendance leading to them having excessive absences. These situations may not be caused intentionally by the employees but just an inconvenience in their daily schedule. If the employee has valid reasons for their absences and their performance is paramount, you should find a way to correct the issue together.
Create a plan to improve performance, adjust specific schedules and update the employee availability forms for a win-win benefit. The important thing here is to not let things get too far. If they are missing work to go out on personal endeavors, it is time to make hard decisions.
Discuss issues leading to absences with your employees by creating an open line of communication that makes them feel comfortable. Hopefully, this will help flag and correct the absenteeism issues during their start.
Treat everyone equally
It is critical to ensure you enforce your employee attendance policy in a non-discriminatory and consistent fashion. When setting the rules make sure they apply to every employee and ensure you are not making exceptions for some favored employees.
Make sure your supervisors enact the policy strictly to get the message out loud and clear. During the drafting or implementation of an attendance policy, it is advisable to consult an experienced employment attorney to eliminate any doubt that may arise.
With time, favoritism could lead to detrimental outcomes. When employers play favorites, it creates an uncomfortable working environment, and absenteeism may go unnoticed and grow over time. If employees feel that they are not being treated equally, they may be discouraged from exerting their maximum effort in work which results in a decline in productivity.
Reward good behavior
Rewards and regular recognition for any positive employee attendance and improved performance make a big difference in raising morale. It can be done at seemingly low costs and yet have the highest impact on your business strategies. While the main focus should remain on employees with poor performance ratings, do not lose sight of the great employees you already have. Choose a suitable way to appreciate and reward the good attendance of employees regularly.
It is important to ensure employees do not feel as if they must be paid for their good work but instead show them that you respect and appreciate their positive attendance. Monetary rewards could be included in the employee attendance policy emphasizing rewarding attendance over a specified number of days.
With many attendance policies focusing strongly on the punishment side of the situation, more emphasis dealt on the reward for positive attendance might give you increased productivity.
Absenteeism costs most businesses huge sums of money each year through lost productivity, excess time management, and poor quality of goods and services. Though it is not possible to solve every attendance scenario, be sure to set fresh expectations for your workforce and a strategy for employee absenteeism when moving forward.
Missed workdays will always have a profound financial effect on a business’s bottom line hence it is beneficial for the business to implement policies to respond, monitor, and reduce absenteeism.