How to Manage Employee Absenteeism

Current estimates for costs of absenteeism in the workplace from Absenteeism: The Bottom-Line Killer, and cited in, are $3,600 each year for each hourly worker and $2,650 for salaried workers per year. It’s important to note that these numbers include a wide range of factors that go beyond lost wages paid for the day.

These factors include things like poorer quality of goods and services, reductions in productivity, safety-related concerns, and decreased morale on behalf of workers left pulling the extra weight when others are absent. The bottom line is that businesses must deal with the problem before it gets out of hand. For small businesses, employee absenteeism is even more important to curtail.

Establish Clear Attendance Policies

More importantly, make it a priority to educate your employees about the attendance policies. The policy must be simple to understand, available to everyone, and reveal any possible repercussions related to excessive absences. Communicating expectations is a powerful tool for making sure your employees meet them.

Make sure your attendance policy includes relevant details such as these:

  • Number of allowable sick days per year for employees
  • Potential consequences of excessive sick days
  • Procedure for employees to follow when absent from work (is an email or text message sufficient or is a phone call necessary? Is there a deadline for the notification?)
  • Policies for employees to follow when returning to work

Incentivize Attendance

This may seem counter intuitive, but it remains an effective tool for encouraging employees to be at work and ready to go day after day. Find methods of incentivizing attendance that work best with your workforce and the way you do business. For instance, flextime may not work for retail or customer service work, but can be extremely valuable in an office environment or for assembly line work.

Other possible incentives include:

  • Preferred parking spaces
  • Catered lunches once a month, quarter, etc. for those who have satisfactory attendance records
  •  Attendance bonuses
  • Gift cards
  •  Event tickets

Keep Accurate Records of Attendance

It doesn’t matter what kind of policies you have in place if you aren’t keep accurate attendance records. More importantly, it leaves your organization vulnerable to wrongful termination lawsuits.

Records are necessary to document a pattern of absenteeism in order to support consequences for too many missed workdays and any other work-related issues employees may have.

Start from day one keeping accurate records of every aspect of each employee’s work history and you’ll have good documentation habits as well as access to any supporting documents needed if problems ever do arise regarding absenteeism.

Finally, don’t overlook the important role that employee morale plays in reducing absenteeism among employees. Even something as simple as adequate workers’ compensation insurance coverage plays a vital role in lifting morale and reducing absenteeism among employees in today’s small business workplace.