It’s Monday and you know what that means: another sick day call from the employee who seems to view showing up at work as an optional activity. Everyone needs to take a day off occasionally, but when an employee is chronically absent, it’s hard for your department to function effectively. Take steps to address the problem before it gets out of hand.
Impact of Absenteeism
Everyone in the department suffers when an employee is constantly absent. Your employee falls behind in her work and so do your other employees, who must cover her work when she’s out. Chronic absenteeism also can increase payroll costs if you must ask other employees to work overtime to complete time-sensitive projects. Absenteeism affects other employees in more subtle ways as well. Your dependable employees might become resentful or angry when constantly asked to cover for the slacker, and that can lead to morale problems. If you work in a department that is customer service oriented, you might find that your customers grow tired of delays due to your manpower shortage. They might even decide to take their business elsewhere.
Discuss the Problem
Don't let your employee's absenteeism give you a negative attitude. Instead of fuming silently at her lack of consideration for the department, schedule a meeting with her to discuss the issue. Bring documentation that shows her absences and point out any patterns, such as missing days before or after a holiday. Ask the employee why she misses so much work. Absenteeism can occur for a number of reasons, ranging from illness and stress to problems with childcare arrangements. In some cases, your employee might not have felt comfortable sharing the reasons for her absence with you.
Find a Solution
Find a way to solve the problem, if you can. If your employee misses work to take her husband to chemotherapy, for example, find out if your company will allow her to work a flexible schedule to make up the lost time. Look at ways to lessen the stress for employees who feel overworked and overwhelmed. Solutions work best if they’re created jointly by you and the employee, so be sure to ask her how you can help her address the problem. The U.S. Small Business Administration website suggests taking a look at your management style to determine if you are contributing to the problem. It recommends devoting more time to discuss your team’s professional goals and your vision for growth.
Evaluate your employee’s attendance record weekly. The Inc.com website suggests developing a system that keeps track of individual and company-wide absences and notes time periods when absences are high. If you’ve created a new plan or schedule for her, make sure she receives a written copy. Find out if the new plan is working or if the problem causing the absenteeism still exists. Plans might require some fine-tuning before you can reach a solution that’s acceptable to both you and your employee. Tell her about possible consequences of additional absences, such as suspension or termination, if her attendance doesn’t improve.
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