• Leah Norman

Improving Employee Attendance

Excessive absenteeism by employees can be costly for employers in terms of replacement costs and lost productivity. If not managed properly, chronic offenders can also be a source of frustration for those employees who generally do the right thing.

Here are our top tips & tricks to improve attendance in the workplace.

1. Make Employees Aware of your Expectations

Ensure that employees are aware of attendance expectations and the effects of excessive absenteeism on the business including remaining team members, productivity and customer service. This sort of information should be made clear at an employee’s induction and reinforced in your company handbook and any relevant manuals or policy documents.

2. Analyse Attendance Records

Continually review attendance records to properly identify the extent of employee absence and any particular trends for example, employees who seem to always be off on a Monday or a Friday or before or after a public holiday. Employees with such casual attitude to work should be confronted and asked for an explanation as to why their absences mostly seem to occur on particular days.

3. Have a Clear Policy in Place

Have a clear policy and procedure that employees must follow if they are going to be absent from work. Employers could require that employees:

  1. Make direct contact with a manager or someone in authority to advise of their absence, the nature of their illness and when they expect to return to work. Do not allow employees to just speak with the receptionist or send an email or text messages to a work colleague. If an employee is not genuine about being sick, they may think twice if they are required to speak directly with the boss.

  2. Are expected to make contact by a certain time or within a specified time period.

  3. Are required to provide evidence of their illness which may be a doctor’s certificate or statutory declaration.

4. Make Employees Aware of the Consequences

Make employees aware of the consequences of not adhering to the company’s leave policy which may include disciplinary action. Ensure to focus on whether the employee has followed the correct notice and evidence procedures rather than to establish whether the person was genuinely sick or not. Only a Doctor is qualified to do that.

5. Follow up With Employees Upon Their Return to Work

Follow up with employees face to face when they return to work and enquire about their wellness and whether they are fit to resume normal duties. This lets the employee know that the employer is concerned about their well-being and has noticed their absence.

6. Identify Any Hidden Causes

Identify any hidden causes. Often poor attendance is just a symptom of a greater problem and not the real cause. Aside from common illness, there can be many reasons why an employee is taking excessive sick leave:

  • Drug and alcohol problems

  • Issues with a work colleague or supervisor

  • Not coping with workload or some other aspect of their work

  • Martial issues

  • Work/life balance

Before launching into disciplinary action, it is advisable to speak with the employee concerned and try to uncover the root cause of the problem. You may then be able to determine some strategies to address the situation.

....and as a side note;

Ensure to have a Drug and Alcohol Policy in place and adhere to it. The policy should include a provision for Drug and Alcohol counselling/support for employees who are willing to accept it.

Drug and Alcohol abuse may be viewed as a disability and therefore if an employee claims they have a drug or alcohol dependency, the employee’s absence should be assessed in that context.

  • Confront any conflict or other issues that may exist between team members or supervisors with a view to resolving them

  • Provide further training/coaching/mentoring if the employee is not coping with the workload. Sometimes employees need to be shown how to work more efficiently and ways to cope under pressure.

Disclaimer This article, and any information contained on our website is necessarily brief and general in nature, and should not be substituted for professional advice. You should always seek professional advice before taking any action in relation to the matters addressed.