Dealing With Absenteeism

Employees who take more days off than their peers can cause real problems for you.

Morale, productivity and profits can be affected, and can irritate you more than than anything else, as you have to make swift arrangements to cover for the absent person, or simply lose the value of their contribution for the time they are off.

What can you do to deal with this ever-increasing problem?

Ensure team members rely on each other They are less likely to take time off if they know their team mates will be affected by their actions. So, use work teams to get employees involved with each other. Let them work on projects or activities where they rely on each other’s input. Build trust within the team by opening the lines of communication in team meetings.

Look for warning signs Keeping regular contact with each employee you are responsible for may nip potential problems in the bud. If people take time off because they are bored or don’t find the job challenging, you will pick this up in your regular 1-2-1 chats with them.

Watch for patterns If the employee regularly takes time off that coincides with major events or happens to be a certain day of the week, keeping tabs on this may highlight a particular problem.

Maintain an evidence record If you’re suspicious about a person’s absentee record, you need to keep evidence in writing, so you can manage the situation properly, if it comes down to it.

On their return, review the situation The employee needs to know that you take it seriously, so a quick meeting on their return can un-earth specific problems they may be encountering.

Support legitimate personal problems All sorts of problems may cause a person to take time off, and if family problems, low self-esteem, genuine illness or lack of motivation at work are seen as root causes, you need to approach these situation empathetically. Could the company offer help by way of training, extra holidays to deal with crises, counselling or something similar?

Make firm decisions if necessary With a written record of the situation,you have strong grounds to approach the person with evidence and the need for explanations. Whatever the cause is, take firm action to deal with the problem. The longer it goes on, the more frustrated you will become with them, and that is not good for your employee relationships. If counselling is required, arrange it. If discipline is needed, take it swiftly. If a warning or stronger is warranted, notify them in writing, and have the m sign the documents. The employee needs to know where they stand, and you need to set the standard for the team you lead.

Here are some tips in setting standards with a team of people: Reward good performance that can only be attained by excellent attendance Consider flexible working hours, child-care facilities and fitness programmes

Have policies to deal with legitimate employee absence. Keep in touch with absent colleagues by phone to check their illness Look closely at the specific reasons why staff choose to be absent.

If it’s regular, it may have more to do with the type of work that they are doing than any outside influence.

Dealing with absenteeism is a frustrating and sometimes annoying aspect of your job, but by analysing and recording the reasons, you give yourself a good chance of dealing with it it effectively.

Thanks again


Sean McPheat

Managing Director

MTD Training   

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Updated on: 21 June, 2010

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