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How to Reduce Absenteeism in the Workplace? 10 Expert Tips

Employee Wellbeing
August 15, 2022
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When employees don’t show up for work, it affects everyone from customers to colleagues. Their absence also has an impact on the business’ bottom line. So, it’s no wonder why organisations are interested in learning how to reduce absenteeism in the workplace. 

There are different causes and solutions of absenteeism. In this article, we plan to share the effects of absenteeism in the workplace and offer solutions to absenteeism in the workplace so you can help create an environment where employees look forward to doing their job!

What is Employee Absenteeism?       

Employee absenteeism is the occurrence of regular employee absences from work. It typically doesn’t count when employees have scheduled one-off appointments, take sick days, or go on vacation. Instead, it tallies up when employees simply don’t show up to work without an “adequate reason.” 

The causes of employee absenteeism are not always black-and-white. However, one of the main reasons why it takes place is because of feelings of burnout or intense stress. These are clearly health issues that have to do with employee mental wellbeing, which is why so many organizations are recognising that they must prioritise their employees’overall wellbeing.

How to Measure Employee Absenteeism?   

Common unexcused absences will obviously be noticed by teams and managers. However, there’s a way to calculate employee absenteeism so you better know how to reduce absenteeism in the workplace.

The absenteeism rate formula is:

((# of unexcused absences) / total period) x 100

There isn’t a specific percentage or threshold for when absenteeism becomes a problem. While everyone would opt for a 0% absenteeism rate, it’s not very likely to occur. 

Rather than spending much energy on the rate of absenteeism, it’s more valuable to focus on lowering it and taking care of employees such that they have less reasons to miss out on work. We’ll touch on how to do this shortly.

What Causes Employee Absenteeism?       

There are some common reasons why employees choose to skip work. You may have even felt these sentiments yourself. For example, have you ever woken up and felt entirely unmotivated or exhausted to get out of bed?

Common reasons for employee absenteeism include:

  • Cold
  • Flu
  • Upset stomach 
  • Bullying
  • Sexual harassment 
  • Burnout
  • Stress 
  • Mental health illnesses 
  • Child or elder care 

While some of these reasons are unavoidable, others can be proactively managed. To exemplify, organizations are leveraging employee wellbeing platforms like LUME to actively care for their employees’ mental wellbeing. 

A tool like LUME makes it possible for employers to support people as best as possible and build stronger relationships between teams. The platform allows employees to gain a deeper understanding of their mental wellbeing, as well as utilize tools and techniques to support their mental fitness and resilience. 

Companies also gain anonymized insights based on data and employee feedback that helps them to gain context behind why employees feel how they do. This way, HR teams and managers can offer support to departments that need it most to reduce stress and help to diminish sentiments of burnout.

What are the Effects of Absenteeism?   

Absenteeism presents a major problem for organizations of all sizes because of its effects. The impact is both financial and emotional for employees and the employer, which is why so many organisations focus on knowing how to reduce absenteeism in the workplace. 

For starters, organizations may have to pay wages for the time off. They also have to cover the costs of replacement workers and administrative fees associated with dealing with the time off. 

Beyond having to cover the financial burden, employee absenteeism affects overall morale. If a team constantly has a member who is not showing up to work, everyone else may feel like they are picking up the slack. Additionally, productivity is lessened and you may lose more time having to manage temporary employees or reallocate work. 

The absent employee can also have a negative effect on customers and the brand’s reputation in the long run. Consider the case when a customer support employee is absent and a lot of customer support tickets go unanswered for an extended period of time. 

Or, if there’s a key person dependency for a certain process to be completed, then that process may be delayed with an absent employee.

By Sora Shimazaki from Pexels

How Can You Reduce Absenteeism and Turnover? 

The effects of employee absenteeism can be astounding and really harmful to a business in both the short-term and long-term. So, now we’ve made it to the moment you’ve been waiting for - action time! 

Consider trying the following methods to help reduce absenteeism and turnover: 

1. Create an employee attendance policy

Start by developing a clear employee attendance policy. This will outline and communicate how the organisation plans to deal with absences. It should state how employees are to report their absences, how unsanctioned absences will be handled, and what happens if there are too many employee absences. Beyond sharing the policy, be sure to enforce it so that employees do take it seriously.

2. Reward attendance

With an employee attendance policy implemented, you can reward good attendance. This provides employees with added incentives to show up to work. However, if you do choose to go this route, be sure that employees also feel comfortable to take off from work when they are physically ill. Define the differences between legitimate and illegitimate absences. 

3. Address unsanctioned absences early 

If you notice excessive absences starting to tally up, then try to nip it in the bud. It’s of great value to ask employees why they are missing work and see if there’s some type of support you can offer to reduce the instances. The longer you ignore an issue, the bigger it is likely to become.

4. Prioritise employee wellbeing

As shared, it’s often the case that employees miss work because they are experiencing a mental health problem. By focusing on improving employee wellbeing, you will not only be able to help reduce absenteeism, but you will be able to support a more productive and engaged workforce on the whole.

Physical and mental wellbeing go hand-in-hand, so consider deploying an employee wellbeing platform that can help employees boost their mental fitness, reduce stress levels and overwhelm, and prevent burnout.

5. Offer flexible work opportunities 

Flexible work options can increase employee wellbeing and also reduce absenteeism. For example, employees who are trying to achieve a good work-life balance may feel overwhelmed by what they have to accomplish at work and at home. 

By being able to work from home or have a flexible schedule, they may feel that they gain more control over their time, and therefore, can work to lower their stress levels associated with each category of life.

6. Boost employee engagement

Make an effort to involve your employees with work on a regular basis so that they feel engaged and excited about what they do. 

This includes creating an internal communication strategy to constantly inform them about what’s happening in the business so that they can understand how their role is of great value. 

Additionally, you can boost employee engagement by offering staff training and development programs, reward and recognition schemes, and team building activities. 

7. Encourage teamwork culture

Piggybacking on team building activities, an organisation that has a strong sense of teamwork means that employees feel like they are part of something bigger than themself. 

They understand how they affect those around them, so they may feel less inclined to miss work or allow their responsibilities to fall on the shoulder of their peers. With strong teamwork comes more loyalty and motivation.

8. Offer feedback

Employees are more likely to remain engaged with their work when they understand how they are performing and know how to improve. This comes along with providing consistent feedback. Encourage employees and offer guidance so that they can always work towards becoming their best selves. 

9. Track employee absences

Just like you can use technology to help improve employee wellbeing, you can also make use of technology to track absences. Absence management tools can alert you when employees are starting to err on the side of too many absences. Over time, you’ll be able to see if the work you are doing to reduce absences is actually resulting in a reduction of employee absenteeism. 

10. Provide rewards & recognition

It would breed a negative environment if you were to only scold employees when something goes wrong. Instead, focus on leveraging rewards and recognition to positively reinforce good behaviour or effort on behalf of employees. 

The more employees feel recognised and benefit from doing well, the more motivated and likely they are to want to put in the effort.

Why Employee Wellbeing Matters to Reduce Absenteeism?   

The foundation of a workforce that can deal with hardship, welcome change, and overcome adversity is one where mental wellbeing is at the top of the list of priorities. The more an organisation invests in tools and care for employees, the more likely it is for employees to remain loyal and engaged with their work. 

In turn, the business benefits from having a more productive, satisfied, and mentally fit team of employees. By providing an employee wellbeing platform, you are signalling to employees that you truly care about their health and wellbeing. Which can really help in the war for talent too.

Beyond simply showing them you care, you are equipping them with expertly crafted techniques and resources to improve their own mental fitness and understand themselves on a deeper level. 

As a result, employees can better manage their thoughts, feelings, and actions. This way, they have what it takes to reach their highest potential, and all the while, they can be more responsible for their own happiness. 

This is as opposed to suffering from challenges and choosing to ignore them or remain absent from work.

The Bottom Line 

Knowing how to reduce absenteeism in the workplace isn’t a one-size fits all approach. It is the combination of strategies and an overall understanding that employee wellbeing is at the heart of how and why people show up to work. In fact, it plays the biggest role on how people show up in every aspect of their lives. 

As an employer, you can help your employees develop their own mental fitness and overcome hurdles with resiliency. A major consequence of doing so will be reduced employee absenteeism because many of the main reasons why people skip out of work is because they feel overwhelmed. 

By reducing these potentially debilitating emotions, you will be able to develop a workforce that is engaged, empowered, and excited about their jobs.

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