Employee absenteeism occurs when your workers are always absent from work without justification or prior discussion with their manager. This problem is a huge and expensive one affecting many companies in the UK and can lead to low employee morale and lost time and productivity. According to a FirstCare report, employees not showing up to work costs the UK economy a whopping £18 billion in lost productivity annually. Therefore, it is essential to take effective steps to lower workplace absences. Here are some effective tips to reduce employee absenteeism in your company.
Provide flexible working options
Flexible working can assist in solving the most common causes of workplace absence. Workers often have to juggle childcare and work commitments, deal with long-term mental or physical illness, or simply work an especially stressful job. Therefore, consider offering your workers more autonomy by providing flexible working opportunities. These opportunities can include allowing them to work from home once a week, hybrid systems, and being able to work later or earlier than the usual 9-5. Flexible working helps workers manage their own time so they can run errands, take breaks, or be there for loved ones without fear of judgement.
Additionally, it is a fantastic way to help workers maintain a practical work-life balance. What’s more, two different surveys discovered that about two-thirds of workers admit to being more productive when working from home. Therefore, your workforce might be even more productive if you allow them to operate outside a traditional office environment now and then. Also, flexible and remote work options boost performance and satisfaction, allowing you to reduce absenteeism without compromising your workers’ health and wellbeing.
According to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development’s survey, UK employees took an average of 5.8 sick days each in 2020 alone. It is no secret that anxiety, stress, illness, and burnout can reduce immune system response and make your staff more susceptible to infections and prolonged sickness absence. Fortunately, you can lower the effects of these health issues by implementing workplace wellness programs to guarantee wellbeing. Your wellness program can offer access to essential resources and inform workers about helpful stress management practices. In addition, you can ensure your health benefits cover confidential substance abuse and mental health treatments. You can also set up a company gym, start a running club, and offer weight loss and smoke cessation programs. Finally, you can learn how to select the right on-demand wellness software or platform to help you choose a program that will ensure employee wellbeing through wellness-oriented challenges and constant health monitoring.
Have a clear attendance policy
A vague or non-existent attendance policy is a loophole employees can exploit to not show up at work. Therefore, it would be best to develop a clear and easy-to-follow attendance policy that sets expectations for all workers. This attendance policy should clarify the acceptable number of leaves everyone can take per month or year and how to apply for these leaves. It should also outline how to record absences as what qualifies as excessive absences. If your staff works remotely and across various time zones, your policy should spell out how attendance will be recorded and calculated. For example, you may use an absence tracking solution that records when a worker signs in, if they work the required hours, and when they don’t show up. Furthermore, your attendance policy should specify the disciplinary action managers or supervisors can take against frequent absenteeism or lateness. It would help to discuss this policy with new hires during onboarding and inform workers of any changes as soon as they occur.
Introduce return to work interviews
Your workers may sometimes need long periods of absence due to bereavement, maternity, or medical reasons. It is easy to assume that these workers will show up when their leave is over, but many of them struggle with adjusting to being back at work. As such, they may lose interest and be disengaged from their duties, leading to unapproved absences. Therefore, introduce return to work interviews to assess whether employees are fit to resume their roles or whether they require more time off. These interviews can help you make the right adjustments to help your workers return to the workplace smoothly. For instance, a new parent might require flexible work hours to accommodate their childcare duties. Return to work interviews also offer the chance to express any concerns or needs you may have so workers can take the right action to accommodate them and smoothen their transition back to work. However, it is vital to note that these interviews are equally appropriate for short absences from work.
Offer opportunities for growth
Employees who feel they aren’t growing or progressing enough in their position have constant low motivation. They won’t feel fulfilled or sufficiently challenged by their work, which can readily translate to taking more days off. Fortunately, you can fix this problem by focusing on various avenues for career development within your organisation. For instance, you can provide an extra full-time position to employees if there are enough roles. Additionally, encourage your staff to undergo training programs to learn new skills and boost their promotion odds. Also, you can launch rotational programs to enable all employees to learn something different within the company to make them more fulfilled. Mentoring programs where an accomplished employee coaches a newer one in their unique role can also make employees less likely to skip work. These programs aim to train new employees to handle extra responsibilities down the line, so they will relish the chance to improve their capacity.
Re-evaluate individual workloads and adjust accordingly
According to data from the business support company NordVPN Teams, remote employees have spent an extra two hours per day at work and face bigger workloads since the coronavirus crisis. Employees can crack under the weight of too much work, so it is always prudent to assess their workloads to determine whether you can do anything to lower their stress levels. For instance, you can lower your workers’ workloads when they are going through a difficult period or if you notice that their stress levels are through the roof. If you cannot realistically lower the workload, the next best thing to do is let workers know about upcoming tasks. This way, they will have enough time to psych themselves up to take on additional responsibilities. Many experts agree that you might be amazed at the impact on absenteeism levels after adjusting individual workloads based on what employees can handle at a given time.
Foster a positive work environment
Employees who aren’t excited about their work or don’t feel a sense of belonging with their colleagues are likely to be more absent from duty. As such, it is vital to promote a positive work culture that makes employees more thrilled to show up at work. You can organise various team-building exercises and give workers opportunities for group community services. In addition, organise friendly competitions among departments and introduce opportunities for engagement with one another to help them feel included. These tips work well with remote teams, but you will need to make slight adjustments. Furthermore, you can create a welcoming environment by encouraging workers to bring in personal items for decoration. For example, potted plants in the office can boost productivity and creativity, so they are great additions to everyone’s desks.
Reach out to employees
There is almost always a good reason why employees don’t turn up at work. Consequently, adopting a human approach to the problem demonstrates concern for the worker and their unique circumstances can make a huge difference. You can better understand why frequent absentees don’t show up at work by simply reaching out to them. Indeed, confidential and informal tête-à-têtes with an HR professional or line manager can help workers open up about personal issues like divorce, illness, and caregiving. You may even be surprised to learn about workplace discrimination, harassment, or bullying from such meetings. It would help to properly train your supervisors and managers to develop skills like patience, trust, active listening, and empathy so they can have these essential and potentially upsetting conversations with staff to make them feel heard.
Offer leaves and paid time off
Modern employees expect their companies to help them maintain work-life balance, which includes receiving enough paid time off. As such, several companies offer unlimited paid leave to allow workers to take time off as needed and lower the harmful effects of presenteeism. Paid time off gives workers opportunities to spend time with family, travel, or rest. It makes workers happier, healthier, more productive, and less likely to take time off from work without an acceptable reason. Also, Fertility Family research shows that almost 3 in 5 employees think their workplace’s maternity or paternity leave policy and attitude towards new parents is inadequate. Therefore, consider revising your parental leave policy to help new parents cope better. Finally, remember to plan adequately by hiring freelancers and temps to ensure enough cover for permanent employees’ absences.
Image Credits: Marc Mueller