Absenteeism Management: How to Reduce its Impact on Costs?

July 20, 20158:20 am1525 views

The most common problem faced by every employer in today’s workplace is employee absenteeism and this does costs the company. Here are some ways to deal with absenteeism at workplace and help reduce costs to the company.

Some of the top causes of absenteeism at the workplace are depression, anxiety or other mental disorders, relationship with supervisor/manager, stress, conflicts at the workplace, parenting issues, drug and alcohol abuse issues and elder care.

Absenteeism is simply employees not showing up at work as required, excess sick leaves, offering excuses to not work for a day and some issues on a personal front that may prevent employees to perform on their job. The impact of absenteeism is directly proportional to decreased productivity, which further results in costs to the company to hire a temporary staff or paying overtime for other employees to fill in.

In United States, the annual cost to employers due to unscheduled employee absences or time lost due to accidents is estimated to be $100 billion. While in Canada it approximates to $15 billion. These figures are quite indicative of the fact about the rising absenteeism by employees at workplaces across the globe.

How can managers help control this growing absenteeism trend? Employee absenteeism management is major challenge encountered by most companies today and there are many ways employers seek to make their workplaces happy, such that employees feel motivated every day to be present at work and perform productively.

Companies must ensure that employee/individuals on a legitimate paid off or unpaid leaves should not impact the productivity grid. While there are many occasions wherein employees are genuinely absent for reasons beyond their control such as injury, illness or personal issues.

See: Recruiting remote employees? Tips on how to manage them

There are two types of absenteeism trend that employers can observe at workplaces:

  • Innocent absenteeism – Under these absenteeism grounds, the employee presents facts and is genuinely in a situation beyond control, this is called as innocent absenteeism and no culpability can be assigned for the same. Since this kind of absenteeism is technically blameless and should not be treated or addressed with punitive measures by the manager.
  • Culpable absenteeism – In such kind of absenteeism, employees are absent without authorisation for reasons which are very much under their control. They lack commitment to the job and often can be caught guilty of culpable absenteeism. How do employers identify culpable absenteeism?

In case an employee continues to remain absent for extended period of time or frequently, then employee attendance records should be reviewed regularly to ascertain if the employee’s sick leaves are regular in nature. Some organisations do provide for complete health check-up facilities every six months, to evaluate the stress levels of an employee and their health conditions to be deemed fit to work.

If a HR manager or the immediate supervisor identifies persistent absenteeism from an employee, they should have face-to-face communication sessions with the individual to understand reasons and find remedial measures to address the problem on hand. Open communication is the key to employee retention and effective management of the productive workforce. Some policy changes can help reduce absenteeism in the workplace such as:

  • Promote healthy working environment – It is important for employers to be concerned about the well-being and health of employees. Examples to promote well being at work could include: subsidized gym memberships, provisioning of free fruit and healthy snacks, healthy cafeteria food, smoking cessation programs etc. This will help promote morale and drastically reduce employee absenteeism at work.
  • Reward good attendance – Set up a program that rewards employees for regular attendance, this will motivate the entire workforce to be present at duties on time regularly.
  • Investment in employee health insurance can help retain the best staff and attract more talent to your business.
  • Communicate effectively to your employees to address their concerns and prevent forthcoming problems if any.
  • Implement an employee friendly absence policy, wherein certain number of days in a year is allocated for sick leave, vacation and personal leaves etc. There should be procedures that allow for unpaid leaves of absence during non-peak hours of business activity or allow for deductible hours of leave when necessary.

It is important to make employees feel valued and respected, rather than a policy that focuses on strict adherence to dictating standards set at work. A well defined absence policy promotes care, welfare and well being of employees with positive thinking and shared responsibility with equal concern for all. Further workplace communication strategies should be enhanced to bridge gaps or void and motivate workforce to create a win-win situation for employees to compete, learn and grow with the organisation.

Also read: How to Manage 5 Toughest Personalities at Work

Image credit: wikimedia.org

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