Excessive Absenteeism And 4 Steps To Deal With It

Are you tired of employees flaking out on you? Try these tips to resolve the issue.

In the age of consistent training sessions, various self-help books, and emphasis on mentoring programs, a problem such as an employee, absenteeism seems like a thing of the past. But as much as we would like it to be long gone, it very much exists in the present. 

It does so in such a glaring way that it has become one of the most significant issues a modern workplace has to face regularly. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, absenteeism is observed across various sectors, with the service industry showing some of the highest rates of employee absence in 2018. 

Excessive Absenteeism and 4 Steps to Deal With It
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Employee absenteeism and when is it considered excessive

Employee absenteeism or the occurrence of excessive days off refers to an employee’s extended absence from work, which often comes in unscheduled leaves but piles up over time. Employees who are prone to practice absenteeism often call out of work without any prior warning. Most often than not, you are informed of such an employee’s absence at very short notice. Which usually comes an hour or two ahead of their usual time of reporting to work. 

In some cases, you are informed of your employee’s absence at the start of the shift itself. At others, you are notified of their plans of not showing up to work when you call them past their shift start time. This lack of preparation leaves you stranded with a shortage of staff, and minimal to no ways of calling other employees for help. 

Then there are times when employees actively and consistently start calling out of work, establishing a pattern of excessive absences that causes a world of problems for your business. While the issue begins with a single employee, not controlling it could cause the behavior to spread like wildfire through your organization. Especially if it is a small business or an establishment in the service industry. 

Effects of absenteeism

The practice doesn’t only influence other employees to follow this unadvised path of absenteeism. It can also hurt their productivity, affect their motivation, and morph their overall perception of your organization. It can all come together to impact your bottom line and hurt your company’s revenue more than you could imagine.

That is why learning how to resolve employee absence is one of the most crucial things that a manager or business owner can do to run a smooth operation. Putting policies in place, having contingency plans to follow, and knowing exactly what to do in case of excessive employee callouts are all part of this process. 

The mere knowledge of these practices can help you deal with employee absence in a very effective way. When you dedicate some time to learn about these aspects, it makes a world of difference in your business management. 

But seeing that managing employee absenteeism is not exactly a walk in the park, doing so could be challenging, especially for new business managers. Keeping this in mind, we have put together 4 of the most crucial tips to help you deal with excessive employee absenteeism. These suggestions would make it easier to navigate the tricky waters of employee absence. 

Check out our piece “How to Recognize & Deal with a Disgruntled Employee” for tips to dealing with your employees during hard times.

Excessive Absenteeism and 4 Steps to Deal With It
A person working at a cafe @iamchefjo

1. Make an effort to create an engaging workplace

This suggestion often comes after the usual “create detailed leave policies” tip. Before you delve into enforcing rules to practice how to resolve employee absence, you have to make sure that said employees would even be interested in following these policies. 

It’s because only those employees who feel attached to your business and see the value in working for it would put in the effort to follow such guidelines. Any members of your team who are merely getting by each day as it comes and show no active interest in their work would not likely follow any new rules that you introduce. As a result, your efforts in enforcing any policies would go in vain if you don’t have interested employees to work in the first place. 

This is one of the key points to understand while managing employee absenteeism.

That is why, before you start rolling out employee handbooks with detailed leave policies, it is essential that you first look into letting your employees feel interested in their work. That’s where employee engagement comes in. 

Absenteeism statistics

According to Gallup, only 34 percent of U.S. employees are engaged in their workplace. This means that just over one-third of all workers make active efforts to show interest in their work, go the extra mile, and perform their responsibilities with the utmost motivation. 

On the other hand, about 13 percent of workers are actively disengaged from work. They are indicating those employees who don’t even feel like they have to do the bare minimum to pull off their everyday job responsibilities. Those in between these two categories are employees that could do with increased interest in their work. Even if they don’t actively think about being anywhere but at the workplace.

This lack of engagement doesn’t only relate to job performance while at work, but it can also influence an employee’s decision to show up at work every day. While medical, family and personal emergency reasons are understandable for taking an emergency day off, these issues often do not cause excessive employee absenteeism. What does cause an employee to call out every so often is a lack of engagement at work and the resulting sense of apathy that comes with it. 

To make sure that your employees feel they are not dragging themselves back to the grind every day but doing something they like, start by performing actions that increase interest and engagement. Develop a work environment where your employees feel safe in voicing their opinions, contributing to their suggestions, and building a rapport with their team. 

Show an active interest in their career and skill development by introducing skill-building initiatives, targeted training, and employee recognition programs. These practices to increase engagement could help you curb excessive employee absenteeism.

For more info on establishing a steady workflow check out “Everything You Need to Know About Workforce Management“.

Excessive Absenteeism and 4 Steps to Deal With It
A movable counter in a cafe @iamchefjo

2. Create detailed policies

As mentioned above, this is often the first step for business owners and managers while they try to figure out how to resolve employee absence. But it only works effectively when you are working with engaged employees. That is why, while you are implementing practices to increase employee engagement, it would be an excellent time to start creating detailed leave policies for them to adhere to in the future.

Health, family, accident or other emergencies

No matter the line of work you are in, you are bound to run into issues about your health, a family member’s wellbeing, or an emergency matter that needs your urgent attention. This also holds for your employees as well, who have a life outside of work that needs to be tended to – and in some cases, often takes priority overwork.

Some issues, such as accidents, sickness, and loss of a loved one, remain unforeseen. Nonetheless, they have to be dealt with on an emergency basis. Other commitments, such as studies, recreational trips, and family gatherings, can quickly be scheduled beforehand. Differentiating between these issues and outlining them in a detailed leave policy can help you decrease the rate of emergency call outs. 

Employees would be applying for scheduled leaves instead of checking out of work at the last minute. While creating a leave policy, paying attention to this aspect is crucial to managing employee absenteeism. 

Curbing excessive absenteeism

To ensure that excessive absenteeism does not become a part of your company culture, you could define clauses that state how many absences could be allowed in a single month or year for an employee. This gives you ample grounds to take corrective actions in line with company policy when an employee tries exhibiting constant absences. Instead of feeling at a loss, you could refer to your company policy while giving the required feedback. It helps you in explaining how the employee’s actions are affecting their job performance while also influencing your work culture and the business’ bottom line.

With this, you could also put call out policies in place that define the importance of getting in touch with the line manager to get approvals for emergency days off. This ensures that your employees don’t just decide to be a no show, but make the effort of at least informing you about their absence. 

You could also put in the requirement for employees to provide a written excuse from a doctor if they are to call in sick. This prevents fake-outs and makes sure that only employees with a genuine health concern are calling in sick at the last minute. This also helps in approving extended leaves with a medical reason behind them and goes a long way in managing employee absenteeism. 

Federal, state, and local laws

But here, you also need to make sure that you are creating these policies with an understanding of federal, state, and local laws that pertain to your business. This is a highly sensitive and vital part of the process since creating company policies without adhering to the related laws could land you into trouble. 

Depending upon the size of your business, federal and local laws would require you to provide your employees with a specific duration of days off each year. This would allow them to maintain a work-life balance and let them take care of personal affairs outside of work. For instance, if your business has 50 or more employees within a 75-mile radius, you would need to adhere to the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The FMLA gives employees the right to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave a year. These weeks can be used to take care of the birth of a child, to tend to a sick family member, or take days off due to their health condition. 

But if your business has less than 50 employees, then the FMLA requirements wouldn’t apply to you. With that being said, some state laws might require you to manage employee’s obligations in such cases, which you would still need to adhere to. The key here is to make sure that your business is taking care of all requirements by law. 

Then you start asking employees to do their part in managing absenteeism issues. For instance, if your business is located in San Francisco, then you will need to comply with the requirement of providing paid sick leave to all employees. But not all cities or states ask this from a business located in their jurisdiction. 

Plans for paid leaves

With that being said, most companies go the extra mile and create detailed plans for paid leaves. Paid leaves include denoting a certain number of days towards sick leave, family medical leave, and personal time off. All of which is paid to ensure that your employees’ needs are taken care of. 

If you go down this route, then this mix of paid compensation coupled with company policies would ensure that your business doesn’t run into the ground due to excessive employee absenteeism, while also keeping your employees happy. 

Be sure to check out “All You Need To Know About Employee Loyalty” or “How to Structure Employee Vacation Policy” for helpful guides to setting up set policies in your establishment.

Excessive Absenteeism and 4 Steps to Deal With It
Employees working in a cafe @iamchefjo

3. Make performance review a part of your work culture

To any business owner, manager, or employee, the term “performance review” brings about a sense of dread and hard talk that is not associated with many other types of meetings. For business owners and managers, the process is tiresome due to collating employee performance data and providing difficult feedback to employees. On the other hand, for employees, it is daunting due to the reason of being reminded of their mistakes and resulting, possible penalization.

But as taxing as performance reviews can be on an organization during the period that they are being executed, they are also essential for employees to understand what exactly they need to work on. Also, they need to know which behaviors need to be changed to enhance their performance at work. Of course, it proves to be an excellent way of managing employee absenteeism and remains a crucial part of learning how to resolve employee absence. 

When to do the reviews

Whether you hold bi-annual or yearly performance reviews, addressing the issue of employee attendance would be necessary for these meetings. This is where the aspects mentioned above of employee engagement and company policies would also come in handy. This would allow you to provide clear and concise feedback to employees who are interested in what you have to say.

 The written policies would also allow you to refer to what your business expects from employees in terms of attendance. Additionally, how they have been approaching the issue of employee absenteeism during the performance period. 

During these meetings, it is also crucial that you do not only know what to say but how to say it. Effective communication would be the one factor that could make or break the efficacy of the review. It is imperative to lay down a general outline of the meeting and follow it with verbal and written communication devices. 

For instance, while you can provide feedback regarding absenteeism and pertinent policies verbally, it is vital that you also write it down in the performance review report itself. This would ensure that you can convey the company’s stance on managing employee absenteeism effectively. 

Check out our guide to appropriately calling out of work “Learn How to Appropriately Call Out of Work“. Show your employees these methods of calling out of work the right way.

Excessive Absenteeism and 4 Steps to Deal With It
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4. Allow a flexible work schedule

Seeing that some emergency requests or overall absenteeism stem from personal responsibilities, offering a flexible work schedule could bring down employee absenteeism by a large margin. It is favorable for both the employee and the employer and helps you maintain that balance which you and your employees seek out of their work performance. This is especially true when certain employees are going through issues at home or with health that prevent them from coming to work at the usual hours.

Modified working schedule

Flexibility in schedule could be implemented by providing employees with a modified working schedule, adjusted hours in a workweek, or the ability to come in and leave according to set hours as opposed to specific timings. 

While doing so in a service industry environment could be tricky, it is useful in most office-based jobs without any hassles. 

Remote work opportunities

Another way on how to resolve employee absence through flexibility is to offer remote work opportunities to employees. This is especially effective when the cause of absenteeism is the employee taking care of their child, a sick family member, or their health over an extended period. Of course, here you would need to pay attention to aspects such as productivity, dependability, and self-motivation. As long as your employee exhibits these qualities with a great work ethic, you could depend upon them to perform their work unsupervised. 

Depending upon the line of work you are in, this wouldn’t only allow the employees to save on commuting time and costs, but would also let you grow your organization from a relatively small space. This would also cut down your operational expenses while allowing you to increase your productivity and overall revenue in the long run. This extended step towards flexibility could bring an array of benefits for your business that you wouldn’t have been able to explore otherwise. At the same time, it is also something that helps you in managing employee absenteeism effectively. 

Optimize your work at your establishment with “Everything You Need to Know About Workforce Optimization“. Learn techniques to stay ahead of the competition.

Excessive Absenteeism and 4 Steps to Deal With It
A table surrounded by chairs in a cafe @trendbookco

While these four steps are designed to be the most effective plan to provide you with a specific boost in curbing employee absenteeism, there are a few other ways to resolve this issue as well. The best way to go about it is to practice those methods that come most naturally to you as a leader while also being highly beneficial to your organization. 

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