Reducing Absenteeism

Beyond legal compliance, there are steps employers can take to better manage or reduce employee absenteeism

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Control of absenteeism in large, complex organizations will normally involve multiple strategies that address both the motivation and ability of the employee to attend work.

Specific strategies for enhancing motivation include:

  • a proper match between the employee and the job,
  • job enrichment,
  • rewards for good attendance,
  • people-oriented supervision,
  • clear attendance standards.

Strategies for enhancing the ability to attend work include:

  • creating a safe and healthy work environment,
  • providing day-care facilities at the workplace,
  • creating programs to assist troubled employees,
  • providing programs for reducing job stress,
  • providing recreational and exercise facilities.

A research study involving 987 organizations, undertaken in the USA, examined a number of methods for controlling absenteeism and managements' perception of their effectiveness. The ten methods that received the highest ratings from users are list below.

Ten methods to control absenteeism:

  • Consistently applied attendance policy
  • Termination based on excessive absenteeism
  • Progressive discipline for excessive absenteeism
  • Identification and discipline of employees abusing attendance policies
  • At least monthly analysis of daily attendance information
  • Daily attendance records maintained by HR department
  • Employee call in to give notice of absence
  • A clearly written attendance policy
  • Daily attendance records maintained by supervisors
  • Allow employees to build a paid "absence bank" to be cashed in at a percentage at a later date or added to next year's vacation time

Reasons for the continuance of the problem despite the use of an absence control method include:

  1. No written absenteeism policy
  2. Inconsistent Enforcement
  3. Lack of absence documentation

Effective forms of employer discipline should include the following:

  • A written policy statement
  • Distinguishing between absenteeism and other examples of employee misconduct as a reason for discipline
  • Using progressive discipline on the absence record, separate from other misconduct issues
  • Explicit absenteeism standards and a definition of excessive absenteeism
  • Allowing employees to improve their records through good attendance
  • Consistent application of the policy. Lax enforcement by supervisors should result in their discipline.