Absenteeism is a common vocabulary faced by almost all employers. Continued absenteeism can be damaging to an organisation, as there is potential loss of efficiency and effectiveness as well as a fall in customer service and not to forget a strain on the absent employee’s co-workers. Absenteeism not only impacts on production levels; it impacts on other staff.
Excessive employee absenteeism can have a significant impact on the overall health of a business. After realizing the serious consequences of habitual absences, employers can take steps to mitigate high levels of absenteeism.
Effects of Habitual Absenteeism
If an employee does not come into work on a scheduled work day, businesses may suffer from lost productivity. Customers may become dissatisfied if goods are not produced on schedule or service is not as good due to an inadequate number of staff members. If the employer replaces the absent employee with a temporary worker or independent contractor, the employer may have to pay higher rates, while still having to pay the employee for sick leave or vacation pay. Regular workers may have to work more hours to make up the slack caused by the absent employees.
This may result in an employer having to pay overtime pay to these individuals. Some employers keep additional employees on hand to help compensate for lost work caused by absenteeism. However, this option may still result in higher than necessary labor costs when workers all go to work as part of their regular schedule. Habitual absenteeism also results in higher turnover. This causes additional losses to the business that has to train new hires. Managers have to use up more of their time to discipline, terminate and find replacement employees. New hires may not be as familiar with job procedures and safety protocols, potentially making safety issues arise.
Before upper management can rectify the problems associated with habitual absenteeism, managers must be able to accurately track it and its reasons. This may require the installation of an automated system in order to help track absenteeism in a more efficient manager. Managers should be alerted to incidents of habitual absenteeism.
Create a Clear Policy
A policy regarding absenteeism can be part of a broader employee handbook that outlines the company policies regarding aspects of the employee/employer relationship. The absenteeism policy should include a discussion regarding unpaid leave policies, notification regarding leave, disciplinary actions that result after a certain number of unexcused absences and more. Many employers require all employees to acknowledge absenteeism policies and the employee handbook as a condition of their employment. This documentation assists employers if they must later terminate employees due to their excessive absenteeism.
Maintain Employment Records
In order for employers to prevail against an employee claim that he or she has been wrongfully terminated based on absences, they must be able to support their position. By keeping a proper record of every employee absence, tardy and disciplinary action, they can be prepared if the need arises.
Institution of Return to Work Interviews
A return to work interview can help a supervisor understand the underlying reasons for absence. For example, many parents may miss work because of childcare issues. Knowing this ahead of time may help companies determine that setting up a childcare facility at the job site may increase productivity. Return to work interviews should be conducted immediately after the employee has returned upon an extended absence.
Offer Flexible Options
By providing employees with more options regarding their schedules, employers may be able to reduce rates of absenteeism. For example, employees may be permitted to switch shifts with colleagues on short notice if an emergency arises. Giving employees a certain number of paid days off or personal days, employers may be able to better anticipate when employees will be absent to better plan.
Create an Incentive Plan
Companies across the country offer various incentives to employees with good attendance. Incentives may include perfect attendance bonuses or a paid day off after so many days of perfect attendance. Wellness programs, project completion perks and flex-time may also offer employees motivation to have good attendance. They may also increase productivity at the same time. These types of programs also help to show that employees are an integral part of a successful business.
Strict Enforcement of the Attendance Policy
After employees have instituted an attendance policy, it is important that they consistently apply it to all employees. If an employee has missed a certain number of days, the employer may issue a warning letter to the habitual offender. This letter should outline subsequent steps that can be taken against the employee if habitual absences continue. Likewise, if an employee has missed the requisite number of days that are unexcused, the employer must be willing to terminate these habitual offenders to maintain company morale.