How to Handle an Employee's Attendance Problems

Absenteeism from work is a common problem in the world today. Some of the common reasons for employee absence include:

  • Injury or illness
  • Low morale
  • Stress or burnout
  • Transportation and weather
  • Reasons related to family problems
  • Job hunting
  • Attitude or personal problems
  • Pursuing side businesses

Some of the consequences of absenteeism include low productivity, increased workload for the employees that have to fill in and low morale. In addition, it could result in loss of business from disgruntled customers.

Since absenteeism can be very costly in many ways, it should be dealt with urgently. Here are some guidelines for handling employee absence:

1. Keep track of employee absences

You need to find a way of keeping track of individual employee absences. This could be through methods such as time sheets, time clocks or sign in sheets. Make sure you differentiate between different kinds of absences such as medical-related absences, unexcused absences and uncontrolled personal emergencies. Monitor trends in absenteeism over different times of the year.

2. Find out the reasons for absenteeism

When an employee is perpetually absent from work, don’t jump to conclusions. Instead, have a one-on-one forum and give them a chance to explain themselves. This will enable you to find out if there are any underlying problems that need to be addressed. For instance, if the employee feels burnt out, you could consider reducing their responsibilities or making their work more flexible. Your team members will be happy to have a chance to express their grievances or problems. If your management style is the problem, you should be willing to make the necessary changes.

3. Check your leadership/management style

Employee dissatisfaction due to poor leadership/management is one of the main reasons for absenteeism. Therefore, take time to consider whether your style is causing your team members to lose morale or carry grudges. Do you value your employees? Are you in touch with their needs? Do you have a rapport with your team members? Evaluate your leadership/management style and think about what you can do differently.

4. Introduce incentive plans

This is one of the best ways of dealing with absenteeism. Incentive plans such as project completion bonuses, wellness programs and flex time can be very effective for boosting productivity and morale. When your team members realize that they are recognized and valued, they will get more committed to their work and the organization.      

5. Have an effective absence policy

A proper absence policy may not stop absenteeism entirely, but will help you minimize its occurrence. This document should outline the notification procedure for staff members to report absences. In addition, it should mention the consequences of unexcused absences, tardiness as well as leaving early. This will help eliminate misunderstandings about acceptable behavior, as well as complaints of discrimination or favoritism.      

6. Terminate repeat offenders

When someone has been warned repeatedly bur fails to improve, then it would be prudent to terminate them. This would serve as a deterrent to other would-be offenders.

Employee absence is a problem that many employers and manager have to deal with regularly. Applying the above tips will help reduce such incidences in the workplace.


Image: by Dafne Cholet via Flickr