8 Tips to reduce employee absenteeism

Absenteeism is a major problem for organisations during the winter months. This is one of the reasons why we at Knowledge Resources published Jan Kemp Nel’s Reduce Absenteeism.

According to Jan Kemp Nel, there is no one absenteeism programme that works best for all businesses. A programme that works well for highly skilled professionals, for example, may be totally ineffective for the less skilled. You therefore need to customise! There are some basic rules for designing your perfect absenteeism programme:

Developing the plan

  1. Decide on or review the rules as they relate to AWOP.
  2. Include the rules in your disciplinary code and absenteeism policy.
  3. Communicate the rules.
  4. Investigate your system of monitoring employee attendance and consider:
    4.1 Access control
    4.2 A clock-in system
    4.3 Attendance registers.
  5. Decide and establish exactly who is responsible for AWOP control and monitoring.Is it you, a dedicated manager or the line manager?
  6. In addition to daily monitoring, do investigations into employee absence records and have them made by other senior staff.
  7. Introduce incentive schemes to encourage employees to come to work. Make sure the incentives are directly linked to absenteeism and of reasonable value.
  8. Ensure that line management diligently and vigilantly implement the AWOP plan.

Note: For a sample sick leave clause (letter or contract of employment), see Form 1 in the toolkit at the back of Jan Kemp Nel’s Reduce Absenteeism.

Analyse your current situation – AND START FROM SCRATCH identifying excessive absenteeism

Attendance records should be reviewed regularly to be sure that an employee’s sick leave days are excessive when compared to those of other employees. If a supervisor suspects that an employee is excessively absent, this can be confirmed through reviewing the attendance records – IDENTIFY THE DELINQUENTS!

If all indications show that an employee (or group of employees) is excessively absent, the next step is to gather as much information as possible in order to get a clearer picture of the situation. The employees’ files should be reviewed and the employees’ immediate supervisor(s) should document all available information on any particular employee’s history.

Look for patterns of absenteeism

Often absenteeism follows a pattern. Employees may regularly take a Friday to Monday off, ensuring a long weekend. Some employees take a few extra days off every couple of months, in the mistaken belief that no one will remember the last time they were off work. Or their sick days could coincide with social/sporting events. With the advanced IT programmes available, exposing absenteeism trends is an easy way to identify employees who are delinquent and abusing sick leave.

Individual communication

After all available information has been gathered, the administrator or supervisor should individually meet with each employee who has been identified as having higher than average or questionable absences or a pattern of absences. This first meeting should be used to bring concerns regarding attendance to the employee’s attention. It is also an opportunity to discuss with the employee, in some depth, the causes of his or her attendance problem and possible steps he or she can take to remedy or control the absences. Listen carefully to the employee’s responses, and implement the steps set out in the counselling guidelines.

The major purpose of the interview is to let the employee know that management treats attendance as a very important component of overall work performance. Keep your comments non-threatening and work orientated. Stick to the facts (patterns, profiles, rates, etcetera). The employee should be given a copy of the attendance report with absences highlighted for discussion.

To learn more about Jan Kemp Nel’s Reduce Absenteeism and his Ten Commandments of Absenteeism click here now. Some of these suggestions improve the work environment. Others develop supervisory skills and support systems. One affects pay. All will reduce absenteeism. Follow the majority of them and your track record should show a significant if not dramatic improvement. Reduce absenteeism in your organisation today!


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