On any given workday, about 3 percent of full-time workers in the U.S. are absent.
This might seem like a negligible number, but when you break it down, it means a small business with 10 workers will have at least one absent worker every day. This can substantially reduce organizational productivity and increase costs.
There are many reasons for employee absenteeism, and there’s little you can do about some, such as family emergencies. However, if you’re seeing an increasing rate of absenteeism, it’s time to act. But what should you do?
Here are five strategies you can implement to reduce absenteeism.
1. Stay on the Absenteeism Rate in Your Business
Some business owners don’t have a clear picture of the absenteeism rate in their workplaces. The absenteeism rate can be calculated for each employee, team, and organization as a whole.
Without this information, it’s difficult to know just how much of a problem absenteeism is in your organization. This is especially vital for businesses that have hundreds of employees across multiple locations or offices.
You can easily stay on top of absenteeism rates by utilizing absence management software. It will crunch the data and give you real-time absenteeism rates.
Workers are entitled to sick leave, compassionate leave, vacation leave, and other types of leave. This means there will always be some level of absenteeism in any organization with at least a handful of employees.
So, what’s the ideal rate of absenteeism?
Considering that the national average is about 3 percent, you want your organization’s rate to be slightly lower than this. About 2 percent is healthy, and anything above 3 percent signals a serious problem.
A super-low rate might look like the best possible outcome, but it doesn’t necessarily mean things are going well. It could mean your employees are afraid of being absent, which is never a good thing.
2. Provide a Safe and Healthy Workplace Environment
Illness is a common cause of employee absenteeism. Of course, none of us is immune to sickness, and most of the time an employee will take a sick leave; it’s because they developed a natural illness.
However, a workplace or job site can cause illness to the people who work there. This is why employers have a legal obligation to provide a reasonably safe and healthy environment for workers.
Unfortunately, some employers only do the bare minimum just to follow the legal requirements. If your workplace has safety and health hazards, don’t be surprised if the absenteeism rate skyrockets. Your workers will fall ill and be forced to take sick leave.
A healthy workplace environment reduces the risk of illness among your workers. It doesn’t mean absenteeism will automatically reduce, but employees will have one less reason to stay away from work.
3. Create a Happy and Friendly Workplace
Harassment, bullying, and unfairness are all reasons that reduce employee attendance in any organization. If an employee feels like a workplace is toxic, their motivation to come to work will decline, and soon enough they’ll find reasons to be absent.
Seriously, who wants to deal with a nasty boss or co-worker every day? Toxic workplaces are known to cause employees stress. And, according to the findings of one survey, 60 percent of employee absences are related to stress.
Providing a safe and healthy environment isn’t just about eliminating hazards that can cause physical illness. It also involves creating an environment that contributes to the mental and emotional well-being of your employees.
You can do this by designing workplace policies that prohibit all forms of harassment and bullying. These policies should promote fairness, diversity, and transparency in your workplace. Strive to build an environment that makes employees happy to come to work every day.
4. Address Individual Cases of High Absenteeism
One of the benefits of having a system that tracks employee attendance is you’ll know how every employee is fairing. You’ll easily identify those who’re recording high levels of absenteeism.
Don’t be so quick to conclude that an employee is being mischievous or taking advantage of your sick leave policy. Take your time to reach out to those employees and find out why they’re not coming to work as expected. Be compassionate and make the affected employees feel comfortable enough to share their experiences.
If you find that an employee is battling personal problems, such as alcoholism and drug abuse, offer a helping hand. For example, you can offer to pay for their addiction treatment costs. Or you can allow them to be off work for a prolonged period of time as they get treatment.
Although employers have a right to fire employees for excessive absenteeism, going out of your way to support a struggling employee will help make your organization a better place to work.
5. Offer Flexible Work Schedules
Remote work is the future of work, but we aren’t there yet. Although there was an increase in remote work during the COVID-19 pandemic, people are gradually going back to the office.
That doesn’t mean they want to, though. Post-COVID lockdowns, over 65 percent of workers in the U.S. don’t want to return to the office, and many would rather resign than return.
This poses a new challenge for employers, but you can meet your employees halfway by offering flexible work schedules. They can work from home one or two days a week, for instance.
Flexible work schedules can improve the productivity of your employees, make them happier, and improve their job satisfaction. Ultimately, you’ll see a declining number of absent employees.
Combat Employee Absenteeism the Right Way
Employees are the lifeblood of your business, but if they aren’t coming to work when required, a problem is brewing. Excessive employee absenteeism will make it difficult for you to attract and retain talent, reduce productivity, and increase your costs.
It’s important to nip the issue in the bud before it gets out of control. Make use of the strategies fleshed out above.
Is absenteeism a big issue in your business? Let us know in the comments section below!