How to Overcome Absenteeism in the Workplace

Chronic absenteeism in the workplace is an insidious problem. A lack of dedicated personnel can result in a higher likelihood of inconsistencies and errors on projects, in deliverables, and an overall decrease in team moral. While it is unavoidable that from time-to-time your staff will need to take some personal time away from work, whether for planned vacations or unplanned sick leave, here are a few ways you can overcome the issue of absenteeism in your team.

Address the Problem Up Front

Whether absences occur across the board or involve just a few individuals, it is best to confront the problem head on. Persistent absenteeism lowers overall productivity and often unfairly increases the workload for others. Make sure to follow up on absences. If there is a genuine reason for a large number of absences from one individual, you can work with them to arrange coverage. If, however, you notice a pattern of unexcused absenteeism, an intervention is likely needed. Make sure to keep track of absences and any paperwork related to the incidents for your records.

Clarify All Policies Regarding Leave and Absences

While it’s true that simply putting something down on paper won’t necessarily result in a reduction of absences, it will put you as a manager in a better position if further action is necessary. It is crucial to clearly outline policies for paid and unpaid leave, as well as the consequences of unexcused absences. Taking the time to clarify any inconsistencies regarding absentee policies and making sure that all staff are aware of protocol and repercussions that may result from excessive absenteeism will also help manage the problem.

There are a number of common leave policies in use by employers today, each with their own requirements and enforcement demands. Picking the right one can help reduce and manage employee absenteeism. Excuse-based policies require employees to provide a valid excuse, usually in writing such as a doctor’s note, to avoid discipline. No-Fault policies are used often by employers who don’t have the resources to follow up on excused absences. Instead, a no fault policy simply counts an employee’s absences and once a threshold has been met, appropriate action will be taken.

Consider An Incentive Plan

Another option to address absenteeism is to offer incentives and rewards for those who are reliably present. Programs such as flex-time, wellness programs, and project completion perks are all great ways to increase morale and discourage absences. They also show your staff that you value their time and commitment to the work. Consider these options to be the carrot as opposed to the stick.

Know When to Let Them Go

Some people just aren’t going to be a good fit for your team. Hopefully, you are able to weed out the worst offenders prior to the onboarding process, but occasionally it becomes clear that a worker’s unexcused absences are impacting their ability to work effectively and require termination. Save this tactic for extreme cases, when other means of intervention are unsuccessful.

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