How to Manage (And Minimize) Employee Absences at Your Business
If you run a business, you know how difficult things can be if employees don’t show up for work on time – or fail to show up at all. Even a single employee absence can throw your business into disarray if you’re not prepared.
But absences happen. Whether an employee is dissatisfied and starts behaving erratically, or they simply have issues like a family emergency, a car breakdown, sick days, or other legitimate reasons for their absence, you need to have a plan to deal with them.
With this in mind, we’ve put together a list of a few of the best ways you can manage employee absences at your business, and ensure that you’re prepared to deal with absences.
1. Start with a Clearly-Outlined Attendance Policy
The first thing you need to do is define your attendance policy. This may seem quite basic, but many smaller businesses may not even have a strictly-defined policy – which means that it’s hard to enforce penalties for absences.
Your attendance policy should outline expectations for your employees, related to:
- Employee timeliness and tardiness
- Unscheduled absences
- No-Call, No-Show (NCNS) absences
- Emergency absences
You don’t have to make things complicated. Write it out in Plain English. For example, you may decide that, for unscheduled absences with at least 24 hours of notice, there should be no penalty or discipline for the employee – but a NCNS absence may require the employee to be formally written up, or placed on probation.
Think about what works for your company, and the absence or tardiness issues that you have had, and you’ll be able to come up with a reasonable document.
2. Enforce Your Policy Consistently, and Track Absences
Your attendance policy does not mean anything unless it’s enforced. To make sure that employees abide by it, make sure that you enforce policies around tardiness and absences consistently.
This doesn’t mean you have to be harsh on your workers, or that there is no “wiggle room” for emergencies. But to handle absent employees properly, you need to build a system for tracking absences, and consistently enforcing your policy regarding workplace absenteeism.
3. Try to Understand the Causes of Workplace Absence
Simply punishing your employees for being late or absent is not the best way to ensure great workplace morale, or keep loyal employees who may have attendance issues. What you need to do is try to understand the root cause of multiple absences.
If you start to notice a pattern in employee absences, try to talk to them directly about it. Maybe they work two jobs on Sunday – and often oversleep on Monday morning. Re-scheduling them or reducing their workload may be a good way to eliminate this problem.
Or, maybe an employee is having trouble finding consistent daycare for their child, and must often call off to take care of them.
If your employees have legitimate reasons for their absences, then you may want to do some work, such as rescheduling them and creating a performance improvement plan, to help them do better, and meet your requirements.
But if your employees are just not showing up because they want to start their weekend early, or they don’t feel like coming in on Monday morning, that means it’s time to make some serious decisions about whether or not they deserve to remain at your company.
4. Provide a Dedicated Hotline for Employees
Knowing if an employee calls out of work – due to sickness, an emergency, or any other reason – it is critical for dealing with an absence. This is especially true in the retail and service industry.
If your employee can tell you that they are not coming in with a day or two of notice, you can likely reschedule some employees or ask for emergency help from those who are not scheduled on that day – so you’ll be able to deal with your employee’s absence more effectively.
That’s why it’s a good idea to use a service like DialMyCalls to set up a dedicated employee hotline to call out. Employees who know they won’t be able to make it into work can call this line, which you can check occasionally throughout the day.
Then, because you’re informed, you’ll be able to take the necessary steps to cover for their shift, and keep your business humming along, as usual.
Obviously, in an ideal world, you wouldn’t need an employee hotline, because your employees would always be able to make it to your business on time, and would never have any emergencies. But we don’t live in an ideal world – so an employee hotline is the next best option.
5. Reward Good Behavior and Attendance
Negative reinforcement alone is not a good way to boost employee morale, and create a positive workplace environment. If your employees always see late or absent employees getting in trouble, but there is no positive reinforcement for good behavior, they may become unhappy.
A good way to promote better employee morale – and to ensure better attendance – is to reward good behavior!
You could offer incentives to workers who are on time and always make their shifts, such as the option to make their own schedule, an extra paid day off, or another small prize, such as a gift card.
These kinds of little gestures go a long way when it comes to employee morale. If your workers see that they will be appreciated and rewarded for doing their jobs properly, they’re less likely to call off work, or show up late to their shift.
Know How to Mitigate the Effects of Absenteeism – and Find the Source!
You’re never going to have perfect attendance at your business. Life happens to all of us, and there are dozens of legitimate reasons that an employee could be late, or miss a shift.
But if you take these simple steps, you can minimize unnecessary absences, create a formal method by which you can address attendance issues, and improve morale in your business. By doing so, you’ll be more prepared to deal with employee absences when they (inevitably) occur!