Are Your Workers Too Frequently Absent? Use These 10 Easy Steps to Keep Them on the Job!
If your workplace productivity is suffering because your employees look for any excuse not to show up, you only have yourself to blame. If you create an environment where your workers feel valued and respected, along with offering some flexibility to their schedules, you may find that your employees WANT to come to work, instead of avoiding their job!
It's very frustrating for an organization when employees don't show up to work - especially if there is any suspicious that their reasons for being absent are not valid. Before you get frustrated and begin firing your lackluster employees left and right, take a hard look at your workplace to determine if there are more sympathetic methods you might use to combat absenteeism. Often, all it takes is a few adjustments to your mode of operation to turn a place of drudgery into an environment where employees feel proud and happy to be a part of your company. Remember that satisfied people are the type who will show up for work eager and enthusiastic. Follow these 10 tips to reduce absenteeism in your organization:
ONE: Keep your employees updated on policies regarding work absence. When workers have a clear understanding of the rules, they are much more willing to abide by them! Take care that you never have an employee who wakes up one morning deathly ill, yet has no idea of the correct method for reporting in as sick. Whether your company prefers for workers to call, email or text message when they are unable to fulfill their job obligations, ensure that this policy is well known and routinely followed. Is there a certain time frame during which employees should report themselves absent? Will they need to provide a doctor's note when sick? What are the consequences for disregarding the rules for absenteeism? These are all questions that should be answered for your workers, and the policies must be upheld consistently, so employees will always know exactly what to expect.
TWO: Deal sympathetically with employees who are suffering from a serious accident or illness. If they need several days - or even weeks - to recover, let them have it. It is in the best interest of everyone for your employees to feel well before they return to work. Express concern by contacting your absent employees to check on their recovery - but be sure they understand that you and your organization wish to offer help and support, not pressure them back to their jobs! At the same time, make it clear to absent workers that they are valued and appreciated. Once they are ready, you DO want them back!
THREE: Instruct your management staff on effective strategies for reducing absenteeism. Absent workers will appreciate and respond to supervisors who exhibit empathy to their needs, and to those who offer support rather than obsessing over such issues as meeting their KPIs (key performance indicators) or worrying about LTIs (lost time injury). Trust and understanding go a long way towards winning the loyalty of your employees.
FOUR: Don't be stingy about allowing non-medical leave. Sometimes employees have needs beyond illness or injury which may prevent them from completing their duties at work. For example, people with children frequently encounter unforeseen obstacles while juggling careers and family life. If you are lenient and accommodating when a parent must come in a few hours late because of a no-show babysitter, that employee is less likely to call in sick out of desperation and miss the full work day. Even if the non-medical reasons for being absent are not "emergencies", don't disregard the value that your employees place on being allowed the extra time off. If your staff sees the workplace as a stress-free environment, and not a prison, they will be happier and more productive on an ongoing basis.
FIVE: Maintain a positive working environment. The last thing you want is your employees avoiding work because they simply "can't handle it today". Absenteeism as a coping mechanism can be avoided by creating a workplace where people feel respected and treated fairly. Keep the lines of communication open so you always know what you can do to improve the quality of your work environment. Employees will WANT to spend their time in a place where they are valued and supported!
SIX: Don't leave your employees stressing over job security issues. If workers do not feel secure in their positions, they will detach themselves and be less connected with the organization. Studies have shown that employees worried about losing their employment exhibit a much higher rate of absenteeism. Ideally, your staff should be made aware that their jobs are 100% secure... but if this is not the case, be upfront about job status and be clear with employees on the steps they must take to retain their employment. Don't leave people worrying and wondering!
SEVEN: Don't let conflict become a cause of absenteeism. While you can't always avoid the occasional "office spat", be sure to deal with conflict between employees quickly and effectively, before the matter gets out of hand. If workers do not feel that your organization is a place free from bullying, unfair dealings and stressful situations, it will be no big surprise when they don't want to show up and deal with the conflict! If one employee has a personality clash with another, take it upon yourself to resolve the issues to the satisfaction of both parties - otherwise nobody will feel comfortable in the workplace, and you run the risk of rampant absenteeism!
EIGHT: Don't be stingy with employee recognition. If workers are doing a good job, let them know it! Make it a policy to offer praise - or even tangible rewards - to encourage high performance. A feeling of appreciation keeps employees content in their work and committed to the organization. If they feel well-treated by their company, workers will not want to skip out on the job without a valid reason.
NINE: Be accommodating so employees will not resort to unexcused absenteeism. Do your workers quake in their boots hardly daring to ask for an afternoon off to see their child's school play for fear of your tyrannical response? Naturally, they will find it easier to pretend they are sick and avoid the conflict! The better the attitude you exhibit when approached with requests for time off, the more likely it is that your staff members will understand when you are unable to accommodate their desires. Work with employees who are experiencing health or personal difficulties by devising a schedule of shortened hours or reduced duties to discourage full-blown absenteeism. People who feel they are being dealt with honestly and sympathetically will offer honesty in return.
TEN: Enforce the rules on absenteeism fairly and consistently. You might try your very best to create a workplace with lenient policies regarding time off and sick leave, but your leniency may encourage some people to take advantage of the already accommodating system. Don't let this happen! While there is always room for the occasional exception, the rules are still the rules. Know where to draw the line, and don't hesitate to discipline employees who abuse the privilege of requesting unnecessary absences. As stated in the beginning of this article, make the policies about absenteeism clear to your workers, and then hold them accountable for abiding by the rules. Employees will respect you for not allowing unexcused absences, tardiness and other forms of "slacking off", as long as these policies are enforced universally and with predictable consistency.
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