Employee absenteeism comes in many forms, and every employee has their own reason for staying away from work: some absences may be caused by an underlying health issue; others could be a sign that staff morale has taken a dive and needs addressing.
Whatever the reason for employee absence in the workplace, there are ways of managing it.
In this series of blogs, we’ll look at what absenteeism is and how absence management software can help you get on top of it.
In simple terms, absenteeism is a member of staff not being present at work when they should be.
Absenteeism is different from absence, which means planned and/or agreed time off from work, such as holiday or other pre-agreed leave, like training, jury service or maternity/paternity leave.
It refers to absences going beyond what you as an employer would reasonably expect: you tolerate staff being away from time to time for the occasional sick day, home emergency or bereavement. But absenteeism is absence on a larger scale. It’s where the inconvenience of an employee being off work becomes a problem.
Long-term sickness, unexplained absences, regularly taking long breaks, persistent lateness or leaving work early – these are all examples of absenteeism. They will usually be a breach of the employee’s contract and could result in disciplinary action.
Absence management is a way of tracking employees’ attendance through documenting the hours they work and recording their time off (paid/unpaid, planned/unplanned).
Many businesses use manual recording and paper-based solutions to manage absence and attendance, or basic software like spreadsheets.
But these low-tech solutions can result in data inaccuracies, and are not as efficient and simple to use as absence management software. This creates easy-to-access records and reports, and is ideal for businesses wanting to streamline processes, improve attendance and increase productivity.
Good absence management and a clear policy setting out how to identify and tackle absenteeism has many potential benefits for your business:
You may suspect an employee is skiving, or bad at managing their time. But what if there’s more to the absence than meets the eye. Could the worker be lacking motivation because of poor management? Are they the victim of bullying or harassment, meaning they’re too afraid to come into work?
Do they have a problem with their mental health and wellbeing? Has workplace stress triggered depression and anxiety? Maybe they have an undiagnosed long-term illness, which could be a disability.
Getting to grips with absenteeism at an early stage, and investigating the real reasons behind it, will help you discover whether you should be disciplining a malingering staff member, managing their performance, or helping them through an issue with their physical or mental health.
This is where effective absence management processes, supported by an absence management system can really give your business a competitive edge.
There are numerous reasons for staff being absent from work – from a day off with a cold to long-term absence for stress.
And in recent months, the impact of Covid-19 on workplace absence has been massive. A recent report revealed that in 2020, as a result of the pandemic, there was a 10% increase in mental health-related absences in the UK, which cost business £14bn – up £1.3bn on 2019 figures.
Without having a foolproof system in place to record attendance and monitor absence, you’ll find it hard to keep track of who’s away, when, how often and for what reason. Which means you’ll have a problem you don’t know about and can’t solve!
Left unchecked, absenteeism can have an awful effect on the morale and welfare of other employees, as well as losing your business money on replacement labour cost and decreased productivity.
Good absence management software can help you identify and deal with absenteeism. Thinking Software’s RotaOne time and attendance software includes an efficient absence management component enabling you to take control of all forms of planned and unplanned absences.
With RotaOne, if there’s a problem with employee attendance, you’ll know about it, and, with the software’s help, you’ll have the policies and strategies in place to find a positive solution, improve attendance and boost productivity.
The idea behind absence management software is to make staff attendance and absence visible.
By converting from existing manual systems (or by integrating absence management with your existing time and attendance solutions), you’ll instantly know if there’s an issue.
And you’ll have the evidential data you need to help you work with the employee to improve the situation and find a solution.
This is a much more effective way to manage absenteeism than resorting to disciplinary action. But if that does prove necessary, the software gives you a robust evidence-base to support any action you decide to take (warning/dismissal etc).
We’ve put together our seven tips for reducing absenteeism in your business.
However, tips without action aren’t going to solve the problem, so if you want to get on top of your absenteeism issues today, book an appointment to learn more about how our time and attendance solutions.