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Reducing Absenteeism in the workplace

Reducing Absenteeism in the workplace

What is Absenteeism? 

Absenteeism refers to an individual who is habitually and frequently absent from their workplace. If you're a manager or a supervisor at an organisation, you may have noticed absenteeism among your staff before. But what causes it? What are some of the effects? And how can you reduce absenteeism in your workplace? 

What causes Absenteeism? 

Absenteeism can be caused by a number of things, but the following are quite common: 

  • Physical illness - If a member of staff has recently suffered from an illness then absenteeism is to be expected, particularly if they are more at risk of getting ill. You can expect spikes of absenteeism, particularly in the winter months when viruses and bugs are more prevalent. 
  • Bereavement - Dealing with a bereavement is never easy, and work will often be the last thing on a person's mind. There can a lot of legal matters to attend to after a death, and most importantly, the individual needs time to grieve. 
  • Bullying and/or harassment - Whether the bullying and/or harassment is taking place in or outside of the workplace, it can have a huge impact on the victim and they may choose to stay away from work to avoid the situation. 
  • Being a carer - Absenteeism rates are often higher for carers as they have a duty of care for others and may need time off to take dependants to appointments, look after them if they are ill, or stand in if their usual care plans fall through. This is relevant for both carers of the elderly and those who have dependent children or other family members. 
  • Burnout or stress - If an employee is experiencing severe levels of stress or is burnt-out from work overload, they might be more absent than usual. They may feel like being at work is only adding to their stress levels and/or they may feel disengaged from their work and their colleagues. 
  • Low morale - Those with low morale often lack the motivation to go to work and may feel undervalued in their role, someone with low morale may also believe that if they were to stay at home, nobody would even notice.
  • Mental ill health - Every workplace should have an environment where mental health is a topic that is openly discussed; where those suffering with poor mental health are supported; and where a problem of this nature is given diligent care and improved wherever possible, as soon as possible.

What are the effects of Absenteeism? 

Absenteeism can have many adverse effects on both employers and employees. 

How does Absenteeism affect the absent member of staff? 

  • Loss of pay 
  • The member of staff could face dismissal if they become frequently absent from the workplace 
  • The need to catch up after time off, leading to even more stress 
  • Reduced productivity 

How does Absenteeism affect employers and management? 

  • Reduced productivity levels 
  • Understaffing, which could affect customer service and productivity of the whole company 
  • High admin costs 
  • Can reduce morale levels and even encourage others to take more time off 

Reducing Absenteeism in your workplace

Just some of the ways you can reduce absenteeism in your workplace include: 

Providing support

Don't get angry with the absent member of staff. Instead, try to be as supportive as possible. Put yourself in their shoes, they've had time off for [insert reason] and then come back to an angry boss... it's not going to improve the situation, is it? Ask them why it is happening and ask them what you can do as an employer or a manager to help them. Most importantly, make them feel valued! 

Providing feedback 

Without regular feedback from management, staff can lack direction and become less motivated, especially if they feel like they've done a great job on something, only to get no feedback from anyone. It can make staff feel really undervalued and it makes you look like an unappreciative manager or boss! 

Rewarding good attendance 

There are a number of ways you can do this, but you need to be careful and plan it well... as some members of staff may not be able to help it when they are absent. Some of our favourite ideas include: 

  • A lottery for those with perfect attendance, with the chance to win some great prizes. 
  • Day trips for those with perfect attendance or a special lunch with the directors of the company. 
  • A 'wall of fame' in the office for those with perfect attendance! 
  • Those with perfect attendance get priority tasks or more responsibility within the company. 

Reducing workplace stress 

We've already established that workplace stress is one of the biggest contributors to absenteeism, so I can't stress enough how important it is to reduce workplace stress as much as possible. Put your employee's mental health and wellbeing at the forefront of everything you do, and I guarantee you'll see better results! 

Creating clear policies 

If you create clear policies from the start, then there can be no excuses. Your policies should clearly state the procedures involved in reporting absences, as well as the consequences of excessive absenteeism. Your policies are also there to provide support and clarity for staff, which play their part in supporting workplace wellbeing anyway (which naturally reduces absenteeism).

HR Compliance Training

Our vast range of HR Compliance Training courses cover what you need to tackle absenteeism. These include titles such as Bullying and Harassment, Unconscious Bias, Stress Awareness and Mental Health & Wellbeing

Take a look at our extensive HR library and trial up to 3 courses today! 

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