10 Tips for Managing Absence in the Workplace

18th February 2015

Employee absence is an unavoidable part of running a business. But without effective management it can escalate from being an inconvenience to being a problem. Fortunately, there are steps that can be taken to reduce the burden of sickness absence that doesn’t infringe on employees’ “right to be ill”.
We’ve put together ten priceless tips that can be combined to get you managing your staff’s absence like a pro.

1. Incentivise non-absence

Offering rewards to staff who take no days off or giving the prize to the person who takes the fewest sick days can work in some circumstances. With a few safeguards and ground rules in place, some companies offer substantial awards for non-absence, including cash rewards or an extra day’s holiday.

2. Consider “duvet days”

What is a duvet day? It’s when employees can phone in “sick” even if they’re not formally ill. It’s often deployed by employees for when they’re hung over or feeling particularly unmotivated. Companies that let staff have three or four duvet days a year often report it being used sensibly and with a resultant increase in morale.

3. Offer more holidays

If you’re giving your staff the bare minimum of holidays, it’s possible that they’ll make up for the perceived lack by taking a few sickies here and there. Allocating more holidays can help here. Because they’re planned they’re much less disruptive.

4. Monitor absence to detect trends

Do you actually keep a record of absences? If not, you’ll have no idea if there are certain trends or individual habits that would be worthy of intervention, possibly disciplinary. A solution like hronline is the perfect tool for such monitoring. Its reporting function gives you the stats at the touch of a button.

5. Have clear absence reporting policies

Make sure everyone has to phone in sick – no text messages or emails – and that it must be before 9:15 a.m. Employees facing the prospect of a quizzing from HR might think twice about faking it.

6. Treat everyone the same

Make sure everyone is treated equally when it comes to sickness absence. Simmering malcontent over what they see as unfairness can have long-term effects on morale, and if certain employees get away with multiple days off while others are asked for evidence of illness, it’s sure to happen.

7. Use return-to-work interviews

Just like the stipulation that employees phone in sick, return-to-work interviews after any time off not only produce a record of the day off but also help to identify potential future issues.

8. Keep the environment pleasant

Simply making the workplace a pleasant and welcoming place can make it much easier for the wavering worker to face. Hot offices in the summer, cold ones in the winter and the formation of cliques can all tip the balance in the favour of a day in front of the TV.

9. Encourage employees to adopt a self-employed mentality

Give employees ownership of their roles, workloads and time management and there’s a good chance they’ll feel more responsible for its timely completion, as well as having more pride in the job.

10. Allow flexible working

Some people just aren’t up to working at 9 a.m. Others wake up some days unwilling to face eight hours in front of the screen. Would it be impossible for your office to operate if you let employees decide their own hours? It’s amazing what a difference it can have on absence.