7 Tips For Managing Employee Absence

By Anthony Sills

Excerpt from 7 Tips For Managing Employee Absence.  Read Full Article Here.

Don’t come up with an absence policy or program piecemeal.

Instead, think strategically and align your attendance policies with overall business strategy.

Take the necessary steps by following these seven tips for managing employee absence and you’ll be on your way to success in no time.

1. Train supervisors and managers —

As I mentioned earlier, line managers and supervisors are the business’s first line of defense when it comes to fighting employee absence.

Senior management must train managers on their responsibilities, ensure all policies and procedures are understood, educate managers on disciplinary procedures, and let managers know that they have the full support of the organization.

Since the immediate supervisor is often the first point of contact with absent employees, arming supervisors with the tools they need is imperative.

2. Return-to-work interviews

Many HR professionals feel this is one of the most valuable tools for managing short-term absenteeism.

Return-to-work interviews conducted properly serve multiple purposes.

In addition to welcoming the employee back to work, the interview is a great time to complete needed paperwork, record the absence and all pertinent information, open a dialogue between the employee and the company, and discuss any issues relevant to the absence.

The interview can also be used to let the employee know how their absence affected the organization productivity-wise, what the current priorities are, and how the employee can “hit the ground running” in terms of returning to work.

3. Clearly stated and consistently applied attendance policy

The importance of having well-documented policies and procedures that all employees are well aware of can’t be overstated.

When employees understand how they fit into the big picture, most are motivated to help.

Once a policy is developed, the next step is to make sure all employees are fully aware of all policies and procedures dealing with absence.

4. Communication / Open-door policy

Part of battling employee absence is letting everyone within the organization know that they can ask questions or raise concerns.

A culture of open communication can go a long way to making employees feel comfortable discussing medical problems, personal issues, workplace issues, or other matters that may contribute to attendance problems.

Communication is a two-way street: If management notices potential or ongoing attendance problems, it’s best to be proactive and express these concerns promptly.

5. Track, monitor, and document attendance data

You may have heard the old saw, “you can’t manage what you don’t measure.” Well, when it comes to employee absence nothing could be more accurate.

Collecting the best possible data is the only way to notice attendance trends, prove that an employee’s absenteeism is excessive, and protect the organization from lawsuits.

Collecting, recording, and reporting information about absent employees is vital.

If you think I’m making a mountain out of a molehill just consider how a wrongful dismissal claim or discrimination complaint would affect your business.

6. Take proactive measures

Although many of the reasons that employees will miss work are outside of the company’s control, some companies have found success by taking steps like making employee health and wellness a priority.

By offering employees resources to deal with illness, injury, mental health issues, and even personal problems, employers can do their part to boost attendance.

Other proactive measures besides offering employee health and wellness programs include counseling, building flexibility into the workforce management system (for example, through flexible scheduling arrangements), and offering attendance-based incentive plans.

7. Get help if needed

According to the Society of Human Resource Management, 80% of human resources professionals have trouble tracking and administering intermittent FMLA leave.

This is an example of an area where it may make sense to seek outside help.

If your staff doesn’t have the expertise or the bandwidth to deal with absenteeism and attendance then you may need to look at outsourcing some tasks to 3rd-party vendors.

That may mean outsourcing your entire attendance program, the data collection, or just one component of your program like legal advice.

It all depends on what makes sense for your particular organization.