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How to Address & Reduce Absenteeism


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In this week's article:


  • Absenteeism is habitual absence from work that can affect your entire workplace


  • Handle absenteeism by finding the root cause


  • Depending on the cause, solutions can include establishing an attendance policy, offering flexibility, and providing education



How to Address & Reduce Absenteeism


What is absenteeism?


Absenteeism goes beyond the occasional sick day or vacation. It refers to an employee's habitual absence from work, exceeding what's considered reasonable. Common examples of absenteeism patterns that you might recognize in your workforce include:


  • Repeatedly calling out sick on Mondays, or on the day before or after a holiday

  • Giving unexplained notice of an absence a few minutes before a shift starts

  • Being missing in action during deadlines or other busy times of year


Absenteeism affects everyone in the workplace: the manager, who needs to scramble to find coverage; coworkers, who need to pick up extra responsibilities; and even the absent employee, who might have underlying personal reasons for not being present.


Top tips for reducing absenteeism:


First, find the underlying cause


Your absent employee might not be skipping out just to avoid work. Common causes of absenteeism can include:


  • Harassment / hostile work environment, or uncomfortable attention from other coworkers

  • Caregiving responsibilities for children or elderly parents

  • Mental health issues

  • Illness or injuries


Once you understand the cause of absenteeism, you can work to address it in a more targeted manner. For example, if you learn your absent employee is having difficulty managing care for an aging family member, you can provide information about potential eligibility for a leave of absence or caregiver insurance.


Next, address the underlying cause


Depending on the cause of absenteeism, solutions can include:


  • Establish clear attendance policies: If absenteeism is an issue across your workforce, consider implementing an attendance and tardiness policy with detailed expectations and consequences for failure to report to work.

  • Offer flexibility: Consider whether flexible work arrangements or remote work options might allow a struggling employee to be more productive.

  • Provide resources: Remind employees about employer-provided tools that may be available to them (Employee Assistance Programs, gym discounts, telehealth access).

  • Conduct trainings: Develop healthy workplace boundaries with skill-building workshops (e.g. Emotional Intelligence at Work, Crisis Management, Psychological Safety).


The conclusion


Take action! Absenteeism requires a multi-pronged approach. By identifying the root causes of absence and implementing corrective strategies, you can minimize the negative impact of absenteeism on your business.





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