Absenteeism is a symptom of poor relationship management on the part of both employees and the employer. This is a very serious problem costing you thousands per year, even producing additional discontent and reducing your overall productivity. Fortunately, absenteeism doesn't have to cripple your business:
Have a self replacement policy for shift or hourly workers. If someone can't make it to a job site, make it their responsibility to have a replacement fill their shoes. Maintain a list of individuals interested in being on-call for the extra hours. While this won't work with technical jobs that require specialized skills, it gives others who hold similar roles an opportunity for additional hours.
Post employee schedules three weeks in advance. Employees often have legitimate reasons for missing work, but if they planned better you would know in advance and could schedule accordingly. Encourage schedule changes submitted in writing seven business days in advance to a centralized schedule coordinator (or system.)
Identify the causes of worker discontent and eliminate them. When workers find their supervisors or job unpleasant they look for legitimate excuses to stay home. This discontent causes excuses from upset stomachs to splitting headaches, when the real problem is a poor supervisor relationships. Chart common excuses.
Localize the absentee problem by supervisor or category. Look at percentages of employee absenteeism by supervisor or job category to identify any local problems. Often absenteeism is caused by poorly trained supervisors or inadequate work resources. Group performance can identify other contributing factors.
Develop an understanding of who isn't showing up to work. If a high percentage of new employees are contributing to absenteeism, then update your hiring processes to focus on more dependable people. Review trends against events in your company, perhaps recent changes have contributed to absenteeism. Be careful about making generalizations along race, gender, or job category lines.
Address the way worker's can alternatively respond to discontent. When you know what employees are unhappy about, you can remove these blocks to optimal productivity. Absentee employees frequently feel they are underpaid and overworked-- actual compensation isn't as important as an individuals perception, explore employees opinions with periodic surveys.
Pool your paid-time-off benefits. This not only makes it easier for employees to get the time off they need, and simplifies your accounting. Stop treating sick leave, personal days, vacation times, and holidays as separate benefits. Let workers decide how they use these hours and employees will gain a better respect for them.
Let people know how much you miss them when they are gone. Make sure every employee knows that when they take unscheduled time off that other people have to make up the difference. When employees show up late it puts the whole team behind schedule and everyone suffers. No one wants to be responsible for other peoples failure or discomfort.
Reward employees for unused paid-time-off. Reward employees for perfect attendance over specified periods, celebrate employees who have perfect attendance for the previous month or quarter. Consider paying out up to half the value of unused paid-time-off instead of losing it all together. Demonstrate you value their commitment.