How should a business handle employee absenteeism?

“Our employees are our greatest asset” or “we value our staff” are often said but rarely is any investment in people included in budgets or forecasts.

When staff related problems are identified dealing with the issues, and the causes, can be time consuming and sometimes costly.

The problems are normally exacerbated when the early indicators are ignored.

Employee absenteeism is a good example. It is a complex issue and requires understanding of the causes.  However, the issue should be covered in the company’s handbook so that everyone knows where they stand.

Persistent lateness or absenteeism can be a sign that the person is undergoing some form of stress and this requires understanding from the employer rather than disciplinary action.

Some may be quietly trying to deal with family issues, or an illness.

A change to the tasks an employee has been asked to perform may have triggered a subconscious lack of confidence in their ability to perform which manifests as persistent lateness.

Or it may simply be that a persistently late employee is disorganised and not leaving home early enough to arrive on time.

Whatever the root cause, if the employer demonstrates a concern to get at the root causes before taking appropriate action, rather than moving straight to disciplinary action, the result will be a workforce that understands that it is valued and will therefore be motivated to work better and harder.

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