How to Handle Employee Absenteeism

While employee absences are a part of any workplace, unexcused or chronic absenteeism can quickly become problematic when employers fail to address it. This situation can lower employee morale as other team members must take on additional work, and the lack of staffing can lead to missed deadlines, poor work quality, and an inability to meet incentives or goals. As a result, employers must take concrete steps to quell employee absences before they adversely affect the workplace. 

First, HR employees should examine the employee absenteeism rate and study the data for problematic patterns. For instance, you may want to look at trends such as how much leave time each employee has used, as compared to how much they have accumulated, whether each employee is using leave time at the same time of the week or year, and how much absences are scheduled as opposed to unscheduled. Trends such as these can help you determine whether the company is understaffed at specific times of the year or whether certain employees are taking too much – or not enough – leave time.

Next, if an employee suddenly has one or more unexcused absences or is late for work, the employee’s manager should meet with the employee and find out what has changed. While explaining how unexpected absenteeism and tardiness affect the company, the manager can also ask how to improve the situation for the employee. Management should consider implementing reasonable accommodations to resolve employee issues, such as adjusting work schedules or directing the employee to an available employee assistance program for help with personal issues. 

Being proactive also can eliminate problems with absenteeism at work. Employees often miss work due to burnout, harassment in the workplace, stress, childcare issues, illness, and injury. By regularly engaging with employees, you can discover these potential pitfalls and head them off before they become problems. For instance, by sending out short regular surveys to employees, you may receive feedback allowing you to make adjustments that may partially or fully resolve some of these issues before they result in further dissatisfaction and absenteeism. 

Flexibility also can go a long way toward employee satisfaction. Rigid attendance policies that do not consider extenuating circumstances, such as points-based systems, can result in high rates of employee dissatisfaction, who may feel like they have no autonomy over their schedules. While flexibility may include remote or hybrid work, those schedules are not the only options. For example, even fully onsite workers can exercise more control over their schedules if their sickness and vacation time is bundled together as PTO. Condensed workweeks, staggered shifts, and early closure before holiday weekends can also be welcome perks for workers.

Finally, recognizing employees’ efforts can help raise morale and lower absence rates, productivity, and engagement rates. Celebrating birthdays, holidays, and work anniversaries is one way to show appreciation. Employers also can create career paths and mentorship programs and even provide financial awards, such as quarterly attendance bonuses. 

HBL has experience in all areas of benefits and employment law, offering a comprehensive solution to all your business benefits and HR/employment needs. We help ensure you are in compliance with the complex requirements of ERISA and the IRS code, as well as those laws that impact you and your employees. Together, we reduce your exposure to potential legal or financial penalties. Learn more by calling 470-571-1007.

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Hall Benefits Law, LLC

HBL offers employers comprehensive legal guidance on benefits in mergers and acquisitions, Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOPs), executive compensation, health and welfare benefits, healthcare reform, and retirement plans. We counsel a wide spectrum of clients including small, mid-sized, and large companies, 401(k) investment advisors, health insurance brokers, accountants, attorneys, and HR consultants, just to name a few. HBL is passionate about advising clients, and we are dedicated to our mission: to provide comprehensive, personalized, and practical ERISA and benefits legal solutions that exceed client expectations.

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