Dealing With Employee Absenteeism
Have you ever met a person who seemed 100% gung-ho about a project, then bailed at the last minute? If you’re a business owner, you probably have dealt with a person who had a terrible workplace attendance at one point or another. Even with the best hire screening procedures, it’s possible that you may have dealt with someone who always had an excuse as to why they didn’t come into work. Make no mistake about it; employee absenteeism is a huge issue, and has to be dealt with ASAP. Here’s how to deal with hit.
Tip #1: Have positive peer pressure in your workplace.
You want to get your employees amped about going to work – primarily because they will make more effort to come in on time. If you show them the rewards of hard work, then it’s more likely that they will want to work.
Tip #2: Don’t be afraid to write them up for absenteeism.
Many business owners are terrified of firing employees, but in the case of absenteeism, it’s often necessary. You’re losing money by keeping this person around! Jot down notes about how often your employees have short-notice days off. This paper trial allows you to build a case against them if you need to let them go.
If you notice a pattern that’s becoming increasingly negative, make sure to note it with HR, write down the details, and also send a copy to the person in question. This allows the employee to realize that there are consequences to their bad attendance, and that they can potentially lose their job if they keep it up. Too often, employers are scared of writing up employees out of fear of “being the bad guy.” Don’t worry about being hated – worry about your company’s ability to thrive.
Tip #3: Require proof for “sick days.”
How many times can a person get sick with the flu in a month, realistically? If they keep getting “sick,” ask for a doctor’s note. If they fail to provide one, write them up.
Tip #4: Call them out on poor excuses if necessary.
You should always give employees an opportunity to explain their behavior, but that doesn’t mean you should accept any excuse they have. Saying that you “have three kids and there’s always an emergency” is not an excuse to miss work, nor is having a hyperactive social life. Having a funeral you need to attend is.
If they’re constantly popping up with “personal emergencies,” then you may need to sit them down and ask them what their real priorities are. If necessary/possible, explain to them that you were in the same boat, and didn’t allow those excuses to get in the way of your work.
Tip #5: Have an employee absenteeism policy in place at the office.
It’s crucial that people know what is considered to be acceptable attendance, and what isn’t. It’s also important that people know what to expect if they decide to pull a Harry Houdini in the middle of the workweek. Having a clear-cut policy in place won’t necessarily curb absenteeism, but it will make it easier to deal with.
Tip #6: Give “red flag” employees a Performance Improvement Plan.
If you are beginning to see warning signs in employees, don’t wait for it to get out of control. You can potentially nip it in the bud by giving them an opportunity to improve their behavior. Offer them a PIP that sets goals for improvement. Put it in writing, and explain to them that there will be consequences if they cannot fulfill that plan.
Tip #7: Look at your own management behavior, too.
Are you noticing a lot of employees bailing? If so, it may be YOU that needs to change. If you’re dragging down company morale, making them feel worthless, or causing people to bear a grudge, you may need to change your actions in order to turn the trend of absenteeism around. According to a number of different studies, absenteeism is one of the most common signs of a toxic workplace – and of a toxic manager. If it happens regularly, you may need to reassess yourself.
Tip #8: If all else fails, fire ‘em.
A chain is only as strong as the weakest link. If the offender won’t stop skipping work, tell them it’s time to leave. Do everything according to the law, offer them a final paycheck, and wish them the best. There are better workers out there, anyway.
Tip #9: Be reasonable about your absence policy.
Not all jobs can handle a strict 9 to 5 work schedule. If the bulk of your employees are dirt poor and use public transport to get to work, expect some lateness or absences. It is only reasonable to allow employees to have sick days and personal leave days. We’re only human, you know!
The bottom line is employee absenteeism can be prevented, curbed, and stopped with the right policies. There’s no reason why you should tolerate it in your business, anyway.