Home > Employment Relations > How to Reduce Absenteeism

How to Reduce Absenteeism

By: Jeff Durham - Updated: 18 Sep 2012 | comments*Discuss
 
Reduce Absenteeism Work Absenteeism

Whilst most workers are only absent from work for genuine reasons such as injury or sickness, every company has problems with people who take time off work for no particular valid reason, although they’ll almost always come up with a legitimate ‘valid excuse’ (even if they’re lying).

A high level of absenteeism is not only extremely costly to employers but it can add to the burden of the rest of the staff and lower morale. A vast amount of research has been undertaken over the years looking into the reasons for absenteeism and, when researchers have scratched beneath the surface a little more, the predominant reason that people tend to take time off work is because of High Stress Levels. That said, it’s rare for an employee to state ‘stress’ as the reason they’re unable to work. And, although genuine stress is very real in its severest forms, many people would possibly perceive it as a weakness if they were to own up to feeling stressed, so they simply cover that up with an often less convincing excuse.

Stress

The reasons people get stressed out because of work can be many and varied. However, the more common reasons cited have tended to be related to employers and supervisors who are very authoritarian and inflexible. They often don’t listen to the workers, do not communicate very well, adopt a blame culture when things go wrong, speak down to workers and generally want things done their way or no way at all. This can all result in a high staff turnover, increased absenteeism, Low Staff Morale, employee burnout and genuine illnesses such as headaches and backaches brought on by the stress so, even though workers will usually give another reason for their absence, some kind of stress-related problem will usually be at the root of it.

Changing the Working Environment and Culture
One of the best ways of reducing staff absenteeism is by changing the environment in which the company operates. This can be done at a very basic level in terms of improving the conditions within offices and buildings. Modern equipment, climate controlled buildings and good work facilities are all beneficial as nobody likes to come to work to be sat or standing in a ramshackle office or factory. It goes far deeper than that though.

Employers should be encouraged to get rid of any ‘them and us’ culture within the workplace and adopt open communication policies where both workers and supervisors (or the boss) can meet regularly to discuss any issues and to consider any suggestions for improvement.

It’s not only relationships with superiors that cause a problem. Often, a person will take time off work because of Problems With a Colleague. This might not be something where they could seek action by addressing it as a work legislation issue so they might not know who to turn to and simply go absent for a while. Employers should adopt policies which apply to all their staff which foster mutual respect between all workers and between workers and management. In addressing all of the above issues firstly, it’s most likely that a company will experience less absenteeism as a result.

Offering Incentives
In offering incentives to employees in an effort to reduce absenteeism, it’s crucial that they’re structured in such a way so as not to be seen as an additional ‘reward’ for coming to work as they’re paid to be there after all. However, things like cashing in unused sick days or allowing an employee to leave work at lunchtime on the last Friday of the month if they’ve had a perfect attendance over the preceding month are a couple of ways which can help to reduce absenteeism.

An Attendance Policy
What is certain is that a company can’t adopt a haphazard approach to the areas of attendance and absenteeism and there should be a firm policy in place describing how absenteeism is dealt with and this should be incorporated into the staff handbook or employment contract of each and every worker. Things like ‘return to work’ interviews with a manager after X amount of days absence or after so many occurrences of absence within a fixed period should be made mandatory. This strategy should not be in place to punish people but should be viewed as an opportunity for both worker and employer to hold an open discussion about the worker’s absence and to establish if there is anything an employer can do to improve the situation.

Of course, there will be some people who are just simply ‘work-shy’ and so a well-managed attendance policy will weed out those who do not have a genuine reason for repeated absenteeism. In these cases, the policy should also state any disciplinary measures the company will take in the case of illegitimate absence from work including firing the employee if the situation doesn’t improve. However, employers need to be very careful with regard to taking radical action like this and should consult all of the relevant laws regarding the legitimate dismissal of an employee first of all. However, as long as they comply with the relevant legislation, the last resort of getting rid of an employee can be the ultimate outcome.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
Thanks a lot for your exerted efforts being done to give us these useful data, However ,I'm tried to find out any tools could help in messuring and assess the standard rate of absenteeism in automotive industries. in order to evaluate our position. If you have such information ,I'll be very appreciated if you send it to me. Thanks again
Dola - 18-Sep-12 @ 11:21 AM
I got alot of useful information from here. Thanks
Neon - 23-Mar-11 @ 4:29 PM
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice...
Title:
(never shown)
Firstname:
(never shown)
Surname:
(never shown)
Email:
(never shown)
Nickname:
(shown)
Comment:
Validate:
Enter word:
Latest Comments
  • Paul
    Re: Violence at Work
    A work colleague has pushed his face in mine and poke his finger in my face plus verbally abuse me plus he is well known to take drugs
    18 October 2019
  • Children’s nurse
    Re: Objecting to Changes in an Employment Contract
    I have worked for same ward nhs for 27 years . Over this time the shift times changed from 2x 8 hour shifts…
    16 October 2019
  • Doe
    Re: Returning to Work After Absence Due to Anxiety or Depression
    Hi i worked in a care home been there 2 months regularly working short staffed i was a…
    16 October 2019
  • Will
    Re: Violence at Work
    5 days ago I was threatened by a fellow member of staff both verbally and physically ( pushing his chest against my own) .I instantly requested…
    15 October 2019
  • Yogi
    Re: Food Safety and the Law
    Just been sold food from kfc and the foo sell by time label had lapsed by hr. Is this illegal?
    14 October 2019
  • Ian
    Re: Driving at Work
    We are currently experiencing temperatures in excess of 35 degrees I am being asked to drive long distances a heavy goods vehicle with no air…
    10 October 2019
  • Steve
    Re: Holiday Pay & Overtime: The Changes
    Average is paid for all holludays during the year
    10 October 2019
  • Clanny
    Re: Holiday Pay & Overtime: The Changes
    Do you get your average wage at both your summer and christmas holiday or is it only worked out for one of the 2…
    10 October 2019
  • Steve
    Re: Holiday Pay & Overtime: The Changes
    I have an issue i cannot get answered, i work 4 on 4 off 12 hour shifts, days and nights, if i take a holliday im…
    9 October 2019
  • gassey boy 55437t4
    Re: Food Safety and the Law
    no you do not need toilets as long as you have cups and a hose all is good PS. learnt all this from my health and social adviser who…
    9 October 2019