I had a question from a reader who asked, “Do you see the causes of workplace absenteeism as a management problem or a personal problem?”
Second, “what do you think is the most effective way of reducing employee absenteeism in the workplace?”
Excessive absenteeism can be caused by any number of things – personal problems, employee performance issues, lack of clear expectations, or a dysfunctional work environment.
So to answer the first question – “do you see the causes of workplace absenteeism as a management problem or a personal problem” – my answer would be, I think it could be both.
Ongoing personal problems can affect employee attendance, which is why many organizations offer programs to support employees.
Employee Assistance Program
These kinds of programs are often called Employee Assistance Program or EAP, and offer services that help employees through personal, family, financial or work-related issues that may be affecting attendance and employee performance.
However, not all excessive absenteeism is caused by personal problems. Sometimes, it can be related to poor management practices or a managers’ inability to create a healthy and productive work environment.
Management issues can be things like:
- Poor management communication practices;
- Not setting attendance expectations;
- Managers not holding employees accountable for attendance;
- Issues with how supervisors interact or manage employees.
There has been a lot of research to support the fact that one reason that employees leave organizations is because of their supervisor.
This is why it is important for anyone managing employees, to have the proper training and support, to ensure they are dealing with employees appropriately and professionally.
To answer the second question, “what do you think is the most effective way of reducing absenteeism in the workplace?”
I would say an organization should do a few things: Write policy, set expectations, and hold employees accountable, reward good attendance and provide employee support.
4 Ways to Reduce Absenteeism in the Workplace
1. Write Attendance Policy
Formalize the organization’s expectations for attendance by writing an attendance policy. Include in the policy the definition for being tardy and what constitutes excessive tardiness or absenteeism.
For example: Tardiness is defined as an employee who arrives to work 30 minutes late.
Excessive absenteeism is defined as an employee who has 6 or more unplanned absences in a six month period of time.
This policy then becomes a measure for good performance.
2. Set Clear Attendance Expectations
Share the attendance policy with employees as part of the new employee orientation process and discuss what your expectations are for attendance.
Also discuss how to notify the organization, and who the employee should contact, when they will not be coming to work.
Employees should understand how often it is acceptable to have an unplanned absence.
Specifically, how many times of missing work crosses a performance line and what the consequences will be for excessive absenteeism.
For example: The employee performance appraisal form should have a dimension for attendance.
3. Reward Good Attendance
Some organizations reward good attendance by giving employees a bonus for having no unplanned absences in a 12 month period.
And, when attendance is incorporated into the annual performance appraisal process, employees can also see rewards in the way of merit increases.
Another tactic is to provide adequate paid time off so employees have the option of planning for absences by using a predetermined bank of hours.
4. Provide Employee Support
Sometimes employees are simply experiencing a challenging time of life.
This is when providing support through EAP programs, can help them deal with personal issues that might be affecting their attendance.
This kind of support can not only help employees through a difficult time, but it also makes them feel valued and that their employer cares about them. A major determining factor of employee engagement.
In order for an organization to be successful, it needs a committed and engaged workforce.
One way to foster commitment and engagement is clear expectations, empathetic employee support, and a structured process to reward good performance.
Do you track employee absenteeism?