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  • Writer's picturePatricia Louise

5 Practical Tips for Addressing Employee Absence in Your Team

When it comes to managing employee absence, clear policies and proactive recognition strategies are two of your best allies. Engagement in the workplace is vital to maintaining high levels of productivity. When absenteeism becomes the norm, companies are hit hard.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at staff absence and how gaps in your administration may be the cause behind declining rates of workforce attendance. We’ll also explore a few strategies that can help mitigate the problem while contributing to a stronger and happier workplace.

Let’s get started.

Team high-fiving in a sunny office

Addressing Employee Absenteeism Issues

Absenteeism can take a huge toll on companies. 

It contributes to growing backlogs, unmet deadlines and millions of dollars lost in profit and productivity. More specifically, according to Gallup research, missed work is estimated to cost the US economy alone $47.6 billion annually.

Why There’s No Ignoring Employee Absenteeism

Excessive absenteeism is like a virus that spreads across the workforce – damaging morale and breeding frustration among employees. 

When employees miss work continuously, other workers have to pick up the slack. This leads to workplace grudges and can also affect the mental health of your workers as they are stretched to the max making up for lost productivity.

Absenteeism can also put your organization’s reputation at stake. When deadlines aren’t met because the team isn’t performing the way it should, valuable partnerships can be affected, ultimately losing market trust in your company. 

What about the workers who aren’t showing up to work?

According to Gallup, employees with poor mental health miss four times more work. The same study also indicates that the percentage of employees who believe that their employer cares about their wellbeing has gone down. 

The result is disengagement, burnout, and a higher turnover. 

Two employees talking in a meeting room

How to Address Employee Attendance Issues: 5 Quick Steps

Combating absenteeism starts with making wellness a key component of your company culture. Missed days are a normal part of any employee’s work life. This happens to everyone. You get sick, or mentally drained, and need some time off to rest and recover.

But when absences become excessive or frequently unexcused, there’s a larger issue looming in the background – and more often than it seems, company culture is a contributing factor. 

The key to solving the problem is knowing why people are missing work and not just when. By learning the why, you can fix the problem sooner.

To help this situation, we’re sharing ideas for you to address attendance issues in a proactive way.

1. Establish Clear Policies

Establishing a fair and transparent policy on absenteeism is a great way to spell out your expectations from the start. Make sure every new employee joining the team has a copy they can use as a roadmap in their career journey.

An effective attendance policy can include the following components:

  • A clear definition of absenteeism

  • Unambiguous reporting procedures for absences

  • Expected notification timelines

  • Documentation requirements

  • Consequences for unexcused absences

  • Supportive measures and resources

  • Open communication channels for addressing concerns related to excessive absences

2. Show Your Support

Expressing concern for your employees’ wellbeing and being supportive is always important – and becomes crucial when dealing with high rates of absenteeism. 

Once you’ve noticed a pattern of prolonged unexcused absence, be sure to follow up quickly!

The first step is to find out the reason for your worker’s missed days. 

Explain how their lost productivity affects the rest of the team with honesty, but without being accusatory or condemning. Ask for their feedback. Based on that valuable information, offer your employee a solution.

Here are some examples:

  • A more flexible work schedule

  • Subsidized mental health services

  • Professional training

  • Other resources adapted to their specific needs and circumstances

You can learn how to build a strong value-based company culture in the workplace here.

Team high-fiving in a sunny office

3. Recognize Your Employees’ Accomplishments

Don’t underestimate the power of recognition! A Gallup-Workhuman study actually defines recognition strategies as the antidote of absenteeism. Also, companies that value their employees’ efforts have higher levels of engagement and performance according to a recent Deloitte study.

Recognition can be as simple as a thank-you note or a fun gift card to celebrate an important milestone or a work anniversary. Giving periodic attendance bonuses is another idea if the goal is to incentivize consistent attendance and reliability.

4. Implement a More Flexible Work Schedule

If an employee is struggling to get to work on time because they live far away, or have to drop off children at school, a more flexible model might be the solution. 

However, beware of making accommodations that only apply to workers who are missing a lot of days. These should be applicable across the board.

Flexibility leads to engagement, as recent Gallup research has shown. Engaged employees are 18% more productive and highly engaged work cultures experience an 81% reduction in absenteeism. They also have 43% less turnover compared to other companies!

5. Encourage Time Off When Needed

Encouraging employees to take a prolonged break or leave of absence when they’re experiencing fatigue can’t be overstated. When workers are allowed to take a break from work without fear of judgment, they return more energized and productive.

This is also essential to maintain a positive corporate culture that puts the focus on wellness in the workplace. At the same time, it can have a massive impact on talent retention – giving employees a powerful reason to stay loyal to the company. 

Friends laughing while cycling in the city

The Importance of Engagement at Work

Poor employee attendance can become a serious issue if not addressed properly. With these steps to addressing absenteeism in the workplace, you can help keep engagement high and absenteeism under control. 

Not only are they a great remedy for mitigating the problem of poor attendance – but they will also actively contribute to a healthy and happy work culture!


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