How to deal with continuing absenteeism

It is not unusual to find that 10 per cent of employees account for 50 per cent or more of total absenteeism. Employees who continually let the team down by not turning up for work can cause real problems for management. Morale, productivity, and profits are affected; and absenteeism can also irritate managers called on to find temporary replacements for employees who fail to show. Here’s how you can deal with the problem...

1. Focus on interdependence.

Research shows that the greater the reliance employees have on each other, the lower their absenteeism. Employees are less inclined to take time off if they know that workmates will be affected because of their actions. To foster interdependence, you might consider the following strategies:

  • Use work teams to get employees involved.
  • Involve employees in decisions on issues that affect them.
  • Engage employees in project-based activities that require participation among colleagues.
  • Encourage employees to tell you in advance when they will be absent.
  • Build trust.

2. Be alert for the warning signs.

Most employees will have legitimate reasons for their absence. Others will absent themselves because they feel their jobs lack challenge, or are just plain boring. By keeping in regular contact with employees, you are able to nip problems in the bud and take corrective actions.

3. Look for patterns.

Errant employees are usually easily identified because their absenteeism often follows a pattern. It may be that their absenteeism coincides with major events or is tacked on to weekends. The employee often telephones in with an excuse, but you find it increasingly difficult to believe the excuse that is offered.

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