Getting a Handle on Absenteeism

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Absenteeism can have a negative impact on almost all organizations. Productivity is reduced, schedules must be adjusted, the morale of staff in attendance may be affected, and you as a supervisor or manager may lose valuable time attempting to make corrections for the altered circumstances. To promote better attendance in your department, consider the following: 

Examine the Nature of the Work 
You can't always eliminate routine or stressful work but you can encourage your employees to speak out about what gets in the way of doing a good job. Solve these problems and absenteeism will potentially be reduced. Make each employee feel like an important member of the team whose skills are needed and valued. When workers believe they will be missed, they are less likely to call in due to illness. 

Establish a System for Accountability 
Require prompt notification to you or to an individual you identify when someone in your department must be absent or late. Also, require prior discussions about necessary absences for personal reasons rather than explanations after the absence has already occurred. 

Challenge the Patterns 
Make periodic checks to see who the absent-prone employees are. Respond promptly when you notice an attendance problem. Require the employee to explain the pattern and then offer guidelines for correction. If the employee is experiencing personal problems, make a referral for counseling. 

Present the Facts 
Compare your departmental attendance record with that of other departments. Collect facts and figures on actual costs of absenteeism to the department and to the organization, including related as well as direct costs. Present this information at scheduled staff meetings, and then encourage discussion of problems that affect attendance and productivity. 

Offer Incentives 
In some cases, offering extra pay for good attendance may be worth the cost in reducing sick pay and lost productivity. Departmental contests offering prizes for least number of absences in an identified period can be effective if you don't overdo them. Make sure the contest is enjoyable and that it doesn't involve extra work.