When wanting to improve employee retention, attendance is the first place to look. While absenteeism does not look like any major employment issue, it’s a sign of cracks forming around your HR practices. It points to a lack of engagement in your people and a general aversion to your leadership.
If you want a healthy workplace, you must address absenteeism as soon as possible. Here’s how you can deal with absenteeism and take back the vital productivity your organization deserves.
What Is Employee Absenteeism?
Absenteeism is voluntary unwillingness to work. This is not equivalent to employees consistently going on sick leave (but that can be a factor). Many employees who constantly call out of work have little to no motivation to go to work.
For example, an employee has the flu and decides to take a day off. An employer may view this as absenteeism, but the employee is not taking the day off because they don’t want to work; instead, they can’t.
However, other kinds of absenteeism are driven by different factors. An employee might be late to work due to personal reasons. Perhaps the employee is evading a colleague because of toxic situations in the office. Employees may show up late to work because of how stale the process is or how poor the team performs.
An HR team can help you maximize your employee productivity and improve your employee retention. HR consultants are professionally trained to handle absenteeism and resolve the root of the problem.
How To Deal With Absenteeism
Absence tracking is a driving force behind employee attendance. Some companies use RFI or voluntary reporting on attendance. This involves employees reporting their attendance, reasons for absence, and other comments to their superiors.
This method may be effective, but it does not encourage open communication. In some situations, it can sometimes promote a culture of secrecy. You need to address the reasons causing absenteeism in the first place.
- Define The Issues They Experience
Different teams have different attendance problems. You need to take the time to understand the reasons your people are absent. As an employer, you must address these problems while actively keeping an open mind. You might learn that some behaviors you thought were an issue are normal.
Start by measuring the reasons that make an employee prone to absenteeism. Is it a personal issue, like illness or childcare? Are they being bullied in the office?
Whatever the cause of absenteeism, you need to address it with the employee. Reporting is a valuable tool, but face-to-face conversation always works best.
Ask about the situation and their relationship with their superior. Talk openly about the workplace and its effect on their motivation. Understanding why your employees are absent is the starting point. Doing a follow-up, like group chats, can shed light on the workplace environment.
- Break Down Your Data
Data can reveal patterns that point to the root causes of absenteeism and give you a starting place for resolving issues.
When dealing with large amounts of employee data, it’s easy to get lost in all the numbers. Identify the trends and patterns in attendance at the company level. Then break it down further to team level.
Identify the absentee rates on each team. What differences do you notice? What is the attendance norm for each team? Make sure that you are comparing apples to apples. Data should be precise and objective. If there are discrepancies in your data, look into them.
- Address The Problem
Collect the data, analyze it, and figure out the problem. Once you do, you can begin to fix the issue. This might require changes in your HR practices. For example, you might have to deal with bullying and harassment issues through sanctions, training or suspension; or you might have to make sure you give your people more reasons to want to work for you which can ultimately improve employee retention and resolve your absenteeism issue.
After identifying the areas that need to be addressed, analyze the policies governing these areas. Review them and determine the points that you can change. Changing policies does not mean changing the organization’s culture; make sure the guidelines align with your values.
You can also implement strategies to help employees deal with personal issues. These strategies can include flexible working hours and work from home. This can solve childcare issues without affecting attendance.
Bring in programs that promote wellness. Employees who are constantly ill are suffering. If wellness programs can help them, do so without affecting attendance rates through incentives and team-building activities. The challenge of this program is that it’s long-term, which can make it unpopular with employees.
- Encourage Engagement
An engaged employee feels physically, mentally, and emotionally ready to work. They are present, committed, and motivated. This is the kind of employee every manager wants.
Employee engagement is primarily a result of workplace culture. Culture is the underlying fabric of an organization. It is made from your organization’s values and shared by employees.
Engagement can be a major factor in your absenteeism rates. Some employees need a reason, beyond their paycheck, to show up to work every day ready to perform. One of the best ways to encourage engagement is through an engagement program. These vary depending on the organization, and may include career coaching, encouraging company-related pet projects, to performance reviews or better benefits. Consider reaching out to your employees to ask what they would be most interested in, what is of value to them. There have been a few recent cases where companies have turned to Web3 to engage their employees through NFTS (non-fungible tokens).
- Make Collaboration A Priority
Collaboration is the most critical factor in ensuring employee attendance and employee engagement. Employees who have a supportive workplace are less likely to skip work. This applies even if the workplace is not perfect.
How can you encourage collaboration?
One effective way is to instill a culture of open communication. Open communication means your entire organization is transparent, and employees have avenues to report issues to the management.
Without open communication, employees can feel at the mercy of rogue employees or managers. When there is no open channel of communication to report issues, employees might take sick leave to escape the situation.
The Bottom Line
It’s important to recognize absenteeism as the start of a much larger problem because it can lead to other issues throughout the organization. Attendance problems cause morale issues and impact productivity. Take action now to deal with absenteeism and improve employee retention before it becomes a major issue.
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