Managing absenteeism in the workplace

Managing absenteeism in the workplaceThe term absenteeism refers to the failure to attend to work. It is one of the major problems faced by companies across the globe today. Unscheduled absenteeism badly hurts the progress of an organization resulting in loss of productivity, increased costs in hiring additional staff and low morale among the workers. It is high time that employers address this problem on a priority basis.

Employees can be absent for a variety of reasons including sickness, lethargic attitude, family emergencies, too much workload and stress, monotonous work or a general dissatisfaction with the job. A sales professional cites some other reasons like workplace politics, long commute, strained relationship with the immediate supervisor and lack of belongingness towards the organization as reasons for being absent from work. Whatever be the reason absenteeism is not at all a healthy practice and steps should be taken to manage it effectively.

Innocent absenteeism refers to being absent for those reasons that are beyond the control of the employees like accidents or illnesses. Under such circumstances the employees should not be blamed for not turning up at work. Culpable absenteeism on the other hand is when employees absent themselves at a time when they are fully capable to attend office. This type of no shows should always be discouraged for it can become a burden to the organization in the long run.

An HR Manager working in a multinational company suggests few steps of keeping absenteeism to a minimum.

• Communicate your attendance policy across all levels in the organization clearly
• Measure and thereby monitor the rate of absenteeism in your company on a regular basis
• Initiate periodic health checkups to avoid absences resulting out of illnesses
• Implement reward schemes for those employees who are regular
• Create a favorable and peaceful work environment where relationship between workers and supervisors are professional and devoid of conflict.
• Provide adequate training to managers particularly authoritative ones to curb absenteeism
• Engage supervisors to speak to employees who were absent and have returned to work
• Educate and engage your employees actively in the organization. Disciplinary action to correct absentees should mostly be avoided. However counseling sessions can prove useful.
• Keep your employees motivated and try making the organization a fun place to work

Absenteeism is a vital issue that requires immediate attention by both employers and employees. Employees should enjoy the work they are doing and employers on their part should help them in whatever way they can to make their experience a pleasant one. After all satisfied and happy employees look forward to report to work regularly and absent themselves only for genuine reasons.


- Ranjita Chattopadhyay (views expressed in the article are that of the author)


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