What Is Absenteeism?
Absenteeism describes a situation where an employee fails to report to or remain at work as scheduled, regardless of the reason. If you find an employee displaying signs of excessive absenteeism, you may need to take action. Although employees can legitimately take time off for a variety of reasons, including annual leave, sickness, domestic violence or bereavement, it is particularly important to manage excessive absence which is unplanned or unapproved.
Unauthorised absence might also include taking lengthy meal breaks on a regular basis, frequently arriving late and/or departing early, as well as being away without any contact or explanation (this can also amount to abandonment of employment, which can be dealt with differently).
Impacts On Business
Absenteeism needs to be addressed because it can:
- Impact your ability to reliably plan and schedule your company’s work
- Put other employees under pressure
- Cause a loss of productivity
- Lead to long-term absences
- Result in a culture of absenteeism
What Are Some Reasons For Absence?
In our experience, the most common grounds for unscheduled employee absences are:
- Mental illness
- Disagreement about managerial decisions
- Personal/family issues
- Lack of motivation/low morale
How Can I Prevent And Reduce Absenteeism?
Companies with little flexibility in their work arrangements are more likely to have absenteeism. Even if your business doesn’t allow for extensive flexibility, be open to discussing requests that will help your employees balance work with their other commitments. In addition, look at your Company’s culture; managing the way work is distributed and clear channels for communication when there are problems will help employees feel they can speak up rather than ‘check out’. Employees are far more likely to communicate their needs and be open about their situation in a company with a trusting culture.
Employers should also:
- Set attendance expectations clearly (through policy and reminders); and
- Address unauthorised absences quickly
How Do I Know When To Act?
There are no hard and fast rules for evaluating when absences are excessive or unreasonable. Your policies and attendance rules should ideally reflect what your expectations are. It is preferable to raise issues reasonably early because an emerging pattern might mean that an employee requires support, a temporary or permanent change in hours, or some unpaid leave. This can often be done as expectation-setting, or a conversation, rather than as a formal process. On that note, it is much significantly easier to anticipate issues, nip problems in the bud and take action when you are able to track absences properly through good HR systems.
Absenteeism is potentially one of the more impactful and frustrating issues employers deal with, and it’s important to act quickly to keep your business operating at an efficient level.
Hello Monday can support you to put in place frameworks for managing both individual cases of absenteeism and frameworks that will help you minimise the problem in the first place.