Running a business in today’s time is just like arranging the pieces of a big puzzle. A puzzle where workers account for most of the pieces. And if any of the pieces go missing the entire picture remains incomplete. The issue of employee absenteeism in the workplace is quite similar.
We all say technology has made things easier for us. We may believe that with the evolution of AI at the workplace, manual labour rates are shrinking like never before. However, the fact which still remains is that most of the work is still done by humans.
As an HR personnel or a manager, it’s a common scene to find employees’ absent at work. However, things become uncommon when the frequency of absence from work becomes higher than usual. And more so, if the same employees keep calling in for sick leave or citing other reasons for their absence.
So, What Exactly is Employee Absenteeism?
Employee absenteeism is defined as the frequent absence of an employee from their work. This is often viewed as a type of habitual absence that excludes authorised company leaves or paid time offs.
Employee absenteeism impacts both the employers and the employees in various ways.
For instance, it raises the issue of understaffing, additional labour costs, increased workload on those present in case of employers.
And in case of employees, they may either lose a few bucks from their paycheck or lose their job if they continuously miss work days.
Why does it happen?
There can be various common causes of absenteeism making up for an employee’s absence from work. These common causes of absenteeism include sick leaves, social engagements, vacations, or some business related work outside.
However, if an employee is being absent frequently or not showing up for work for a long time the reasons can be serious. Also, it’s not always right to assume that an employee is absent because he/she wants to skip work.
Sometimes these reasons are more workplace-related than being entirely the employees' fault. This is where the main concern begins as it not only disrupts the work culture but adversely affects employees productivity.
Notable Reasons for Employee Absenteeism
Low Employee Engagement
Employee engagement is a vital part of the 21st-century work culture. In the shorter term, it is the practice followed by corporations to bring employees closer to their workplace. Employees who feel connected to their workplace are more likely to perform better than the others who are not. Having a low or no employee engagement at work is one of the key reasons behind an employees’ unscheduled absences.
Absenteeism doesn’t always mean being absent for a whole day or two at the workplace. Employees taking unnecessary long breaks, coming late and leaving too early also implies absenteeism. This also raises questions on an employees’ dedication towards their work leaving a bad impression about them.
Lack of a Flexible Work Schedule
Flexible working has become a necessity rather than a privilege for professionals across businesses. Employees have their own social and personal commitments which they need to abide by for enjoying a sound work-life balance. In such a case, the lack of a flexible working schedule can cause the employee to miss out on work to follow up on their personal responsibilities.
Workplace Bullying and Harassment
Workplace harassment is a very major issue faced by workplaces around the globe. Harassment can be either in verbal or physical form. Such issues have a negative effect on employees’ emotional status and their mental health. This also causes a decline in the employees’ interest towards their work leading to absenteeism.
Mental Health Issues
Mental health issues can be a big hindrance for an employee to have a healthy work-life. Issues like stress, burnout and depression are equally responsible for an employee to feel less inclined towards their work as other reasons. Thus, leading towards low employee attendance rates at the workplace.
Remedies for dealing with Employee Absenteeism
Managing absenteeism can be made simpler with a well-placed absence management policy.
Such policies should clearly lay down the number of authorised leaves, paid time offs, whom and when to approach for leaves and also the repercussions of illicit absences.
Apart from such policies, the administration should also make a move to amend the causes of absenteeism.
Here are some of the other ways that can help out reduce absenteeism
Surveys and Opinions
Surveys and opinions are very important for solving any problem. In fact, it is the foremost thing to do before heading towards a solution. Knowing how your employees feel at the workplace gives you more insight into the reasons leading to absenteeism and other relating issues.
Such surveys should take into account the employees own details like
- Daily commuting means
- Elderlies at home to take care off
- Any ongoing personal medication
- Job Satisfaction
Flexible Work Schedule
Instiling a flexible work schedule is a must for every modern day workplace. Such arrangements let the employees stay connected to their work. At the same time, it also allows them to keep a check on their personal commitments.
As it is observed that employees with better work-life balance outshine others with their performance. Employers should take adequate measures to ensure the same in their workplace.
Like I said earlier, the reasons for employee absenteeism can be serious and unusual. Every workplace should constitute a grievance cell or entrust someone to look after the workplace discipline. This becomes very crucial for tackling issues related to workplace bullying and harassment.
Having such a body at the workplace would help the employees come out of their stigma and open up about their problems. This will boost their confidence and discourage absence from work.
Employee Engagement Programs
Employee engagement programs help companies to keep their employees hooked to the workplace. These programs raise the standard of workplace operations by bridging the gap between employee and their employers. It also makes the employees feel privileged about being a part of the workplace with various activities and benefits.
Employee engagement activities can be improvised based on the workplace needs and size of the workforce. Acknowledging employees’ efforts and appreciating them can help bring down workplace absenteeism.
Rewards and Incentivization
Rewarding and incentivizing the employee with a good attendance record is a necessary step for motivating the rest of the workforce. Realising the fact that their presence in the workplace is highly appreciated and accounted for.
This will motivate them to attend their workplace and set their morale high.
You can opt for rewarding the employee with the best attendance at the end of every year. As there can be days when an employee is absent for legit reasons, doing this will give a fair chance to every employee.
Return to Work Interview
Employees require long term leaves in case of prolonged sickness, maternity reasons or bereavement. Such leaves may sometimes cause a change of behaviour resulting in the decline of ones’ interest over their responsibilities. Return to work interview here lets the employers analyse if the employee is fit to resume his/her duties. Based on such analysis employers are able to take appropriate measures to help the employee get back on track.
Also, you can arrange for an orientation session along with the interview to help employees get back in the work mood.
Employees’ are humans too, they fall sick, require time to rest and moments to spend with their loved ones. It would be wrong to believe that an employee would be present at work all the time if everything at the workplace is set right. However, getting things right and making sure the employees are engaged in a healthy work environment is very important.
Mitigating employee absenteeism is a long term process even with the right policies. Employers must make it a point to support their employees and their aspirations within the workplace. And if all the necessary steps are taken at the right time, then it will benefit both the employee and the employer. Therefore, lowering the rates of employee absenteeism at the workplace.