How To Reduce Absenteeism In The Workplace

Absence management is a crucial factor in running a successful business. Management should support the health and well-being of their employees while fostering efficiency and diligence. Absenteeism, including unauthorised absence and the misuse of sick pay systems, can dramatically affect the performance of a business, resulting in reduced productivity, poor customer service and low workplace morale. If you fear absenteeism is an issue within your company, consider the following tips for effective absence management.

Discourage Presenteeism

Although presenteeism may seem like the stark opposite of absenteeism, they are closely related. Both result in a loss of productivity, potentially detrimental to the growth and success of your business. Presenteeism - the act of employees continuing to work despite being unfit to do so due to ill health - can occur when workers avoid taking authorised absences for several reasons, such as being accused of malingering or fear that they may let their fellow team members down. You can foster a presenteeism-free workplace culture by leading by example. Take appropriate sick days when needed and allow time off for personal reasons such as funerals and cultural holidays.

Update Your Policies

Take a long, hard look at your policies. Do they clearly outline the correct process for reporting an absence? Perhaps you need to reevaluate the repercussions for poor attendance or unauthorised absences. In most cases, disciplinary action, such as a written warning, is a reasonable response to an unexpected and unreported absence. Furthermore, should this behaviour continue, termination of employment may well be considered. It is vital that your workforce is aware of what is expected of them and that you enforce your policies where appropriate for them to be respected.

Be Aware Of Workplace Hostility

Workplace hostility is a significant cause of employee absenteeism. Employees who feel uncomfortable, bullied or discriminated against are less likely to turn up for work. Again, consider your policies. Every company should have a robust anti-discrimination policy, as well as procedures for the prevention of bullying and harassment. That said, policies are of no use unless they are enforced. Establish an open-door policy and adopt a zero-tolerance approach towards poor treatment among colleagues.

Reward Attendance

Generally speaking, turning up for work is the base-level requirement for employees. However, a little incentive can go a long way. Rewards and recognition to commemorate good attendance could prevent absenteeism. Everything from financial bonuses to extended breaks could do wonders for your company’s employee attendance. That being said, attendance reward schemes should be treated with caution, as coming into work despite legitimate reasons for absence, such as contagious illnesses, could result in presenteeism. It may also be misconstrued as discrimination against employees with chronic illnesses.

Rethink Your Training Strategies

Training is vital for a number of reasons; boosting productivity, increasing employee motivation and improving customer service. Studies have shown that adequately trained employees feel more confident, engaged, and comfortable performing in their roles. In fact, one study conducted by LinkedIn found that when employees are more engaged, they take 41% fewer sick days. Ensure you provide regular appropriate training to ensure your workforce is clear about what is expected of them. You could also consider alternative forms of training, including theatre-based workplace communication training and team-building weekend retreats, effective for everything from team building to leadership development.

Process Automation

Automation refers to software and technology companies use to streamline business processes and tasks. Everything from invoice processing to digital signatures can be automated to accomplish defined organisational goals. A key benefit of automation is the ability to handle mundane, repetitive tasks, so staff members are free to address more critical issues that require human intervention. Process automation can increase employee satisfaction and reduce absenteeism by taking the banality out of everyday working life, so your workforce can focus on tasks requiring creativity and innovation - something machines and artificial intelligence cannot yet accomplish.

Flexible Work Models

Flexible approaches such as hybrid and remote working offer a much better work-life balance, particularly for employees who commute long distances. During the height of the global pandemic, many professionals were forced to work from home, which was precarious and unprecedented at the time. However, many companies discovered that hybrid and remote working fostered autonomy and productivity, resulting in improved employee morale and reduced absenteeism, and have continued with this approach ever since.

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