Everyone gets sick occasionally, but excessive absenteeism is detrimental to your organization in many ways. Unplanned and intermittent absences can cost you as much as 8.7% of payroll. Real costs come from salary paid for time not worked, disability pay, the cost of replacement and temporary workers and overtime for other employees. There are also intangible costs such as reduced employee morale and negative impacts on your customers and products.
An organization’s attendance policy should be clearly worded and readily available to employees and supervisors. The policy should be equitably applied across all job levels and categories. Specific advance notice of absence rules should be included, as well as when a doctor’s note is required. The policy should also clearly state the progressive discipline steps that will be taken in the event of abuse. For example, first a verbal and then written warning, leading to suspension from work without pay and, eventually, possible termination of employment.
The policy should also state clearly that if an employee is really ill, he or she should definitely stay home. The risk of course is that a sick employee can spread a communicable disease in the workplace, leading to even more employees’ absences.
Don’t forget the saying about the carrot vs. the stick. Including a reward component in your policy may incent workers to try for better, and perhaps even perfect attendance. Some ideas are to allow employees with perfect attendance over a set period of time to leave early one Friday afternoon. Consider adding personal days or floating holidays to your Time Off policy to allow employees to take care of personal tasks. Monetary incentives such as occasional gift cards or even bonus pay can work wonders to deter absences.
Nationwide, it’s estimated that almost two out of every three workers who call in sick aren’t really ill. Other reasons for unplanned absences include family issues such as day or elder care, stress, the need to take care of personal tasks, and even an entitlement point of view. Excessive absenteeism can point to other issues such as addiction, family issues and financial problems.
If these scenarios sound familiar … well, they are – time to make an EAP referral! Because excessive absenteeism can have these underlying causes, there is something going on with the employee that may not be obvious in the workplace. A perceptive supervisor may recognize that an otherwise dependable and productive worker has personal issues that are best addressed by an EAP professional.
By addressing personal problems, the stressful situation can be resolved, allowing the employee to improve attendance and therefore work performance.
Your EAP provider can work with you to review your employees’ unplanned and intermittent absences. An analysis can determine trends and point out deficiencies in your policies. Along with EAP usage, this information can help you understand where your organization may need help: adjust attendance policies, educate managers and employees on EAP referrals and counseling, and reward employees for good attendance.
Reducing excessive absenteeism will improve employee morale and positively impact the bottom line of your organization. Add to these the chance to reduce an employee’s stress or even save his or her job and family relationships, and it becomes a win-win for all involved.