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Managing absenteeism in the workplace

Although employee attendance statistics have improved in recent years, absenteeism still continues to be an issue for small businesses with more and more people taking time off due to stress and other mental health illnesses. Simon Birchall, managing director of a leading workforce management solutions developer, timeware (UK), offers his advice to small business owners on how to effectively manage and control poor employee attendance.

Absence management is an ongoing problem for many small businesses with owners, managers and HR professionals not realising the huge financial costs it can incur. Not only does ongoing absenteeism cost financially, but it can also cause problems for the entire culture of a business, leading to low levels of engagement and a high turnover of staff. However, with the right communication processes in place and the implementation of efficient workforce management systems, absenteeism can be successfully managed and controlled.

Below are seven tips on how to effectively manage absenteeism in the workplace:

  1. Train your managers and HR professionals thoroughly so that they know how to implement effective management systems and can deal with disgruntled staff members accordingly. They need to be approachable so that employees feel comfortable talking to them about concerns or problems they may have. By solving any issues early on you can prevent problems getting out of control.
  2. Be as understanding as possible with your employees. Try to be aware of the reasons behind an employee’s absenteeism and determine whether the problem is widespread. People encounter a number of difficulties outside of a working environment so make sure you understand what’s going on before pointing the finger. Mental health issues such as stress and anxiety are becoming more and more evident as causes of absenteeism, but are not always overtly apparent to an employer. Therefore, it’s important for businesses to make sure employees feel comfortable talking to managers or HR about such problems.
  3. A business’ culture is one of the most important things to consider when attempting to engage staff and reduce absenteeism. It can be difficult to make everyone happy all of the time, however trying to get that balance right will prove to your employees that you’re serious about their wellbeing. Try developing a mission statement and a set of values for your business which will help to create a unified working environment.
  4. Offering incentives for staff members who have shown good attendance and performance levels will help with absenteeism. Offering extra holidays or rewards for exceptional attendance records can help to motivate and engage employees. The HR department can help set up these kinds of incentives and rewards for your employees.
  5. Remember to communicate with your workforce. Nowadays, with so much reliance on technology, it can be easy to forget about face-to-face communication, but your employee’s welfare depends on it. Make sure you show your employees that you care about their wellbeing and happiness at work. Show them you appreciate their time and dedication and are available to talk through any problems they may be having.
  6. Being organised is critical when it comes to trying to manage absenteeism. Employees need to know that they work for an organised and well structured company with the correct, legal procedures in place. They want to know they are being treated fairly and in the same way as everyone else. Managers and HR teams should ensure that they implement effective procedures and continually uphold them.
  7. Investing in workforce management systems can really help with your businesses organisation. Hardware that can track an employee’s whereabouts will help monitor absenteeism, allowing you to efficiently manage and control any issues before they take hold. Such systems can also calculate working hours and holiday entitlement accurately, which ensures all employees are being monitored and treated fairly. Employees are much more likely to stay engaged and focused when they know they are being treated in the same way as their colleagues.

Low employee attendance can be a difficult problem to monitor with many small and medium sized businesses not realising the detrimental effects it can have on a company. However, by combining good communication systems with the effective training of managers and HR professionals, robust and well organised procedures can be implemented in order to create a desirable business culture and healthy working environment. This, combined with effective workforce management systems and the latest technology, will help monitor, control and effectively combat everyday absenteeism in the workplace.