Combatting excessive absenteeism

Absenteeism, including lateness and early departures, is a major problem across multiple industries. Dealing with unplanned absence can be a balancing act, as on one hand, you want to ensure you’re considering the wellbeing and needs of your employees, however it’s no surprise that repeated absences can adversely affect productivity and business outcomes. It can completely cripple large front-line operations that depend on manual labour or shift work and therefore it’s important to know how to address absenteeism effectively within the workplace.


The approach towards dealing with absenteeism can make a huge difference and it is important to determine if the absences are unreasonable by basing your decision on the underlying reason for the absence, your company’s policies/procedures regarding time off, and the normal level of absences expected in your industry or in your company. In addition, setting the right expectations to following up absence issues pragmatically and sensitively, as well as good communication can make the difference between a positive company culture or misinformed and disgruntled employees.


When someone has been absent, it’s important to talk to them about it as soon as they’re back. For employees who have a genuine reason for absence, this will be a great way to check in on how they’re doing and support them in coming back to work and probably put their mind at ease on their return. This will allow them to get back into work with a positive mental attitude and decrease the chances of becoming anxious or shying away from workload that may have built up over their period of absence. For cases where someone doesn’t have a good reason for the absence, the attention paid to their time off will hopefully deter further absenteeism.


Don’t wait for chronic attendance issues to emerge to address requirements and make your expectations clear. Ensure that all employees are reminded of the company absence policy on a regular basis as this will not only avoid any misunderstanding, but it will set the tone within the workplace that there is a procedure which must be adhered to and reiterate the consequences if not followed appropriately.

Finally, whether your employees are absent or tardy due to transportation issues, health issues, personal circumstances, or burnout, it’s critically important to understand their specific barriers to success. Listen and be empathetic but be sure to take the opportunity to reinforce the expectations and requirements of the job. Reiterate how essential excellent attendance is to your operations and ask what you can do to support them and help them show up on time, as scheduled.

If you have concerns relating to absence, contact us on 0800 9995 121 to discuss.

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