Absenteeism has been, and will likely continue to be, a frustrating issue when running a nonprofit. When employees do not show up for work their absence can have a significant impact on the entire organization. There are many moving parts to this situation; finding out and resolving the root cause of employee absenteeism can be challenging. However, well-developed policies, thoughtful conversations, and backup documentation can help address these issues.
What is employee absenteeism?
Employee absenteeism is when employees display a pattern of missing work, whether they are often late or frequently call in last-minute. Most people are absent from work from time to time due to personal or medical reasons, however, absenteeism is a problem when employees do not communicate about their attendance, or they exploit the organization’s generosity to avoid doing their job.
An employee calling their supervisor and telling them that they will be late because they got a flat tire on their way to work is a good example of an employee properly handling an absence that is likely out of their control. This becomes a problem when that employee starts calling out of their shift at the last-minute on a weekly basis, and now, that one-time issue has turned into a case of absenteeism.
Employee absenteeism is a problem
There are a lot of good reasons why employees miss work, however, ignoring absenteeism issues can lead to an unproductive culture and seriously disrupt the workflow in a program or department. Small attendance issues can eventually grow and often spread to other employees causing a profound effect on an organization. This can cause a reduction in productivity, a lowered morale, and more stress on the employees that do show up for work. A loss of program dollars can be seen, for example, if ratios are out of line with licensing standards and a program must be closed.
Indications of continual absenteeism
Prior to addressing absenteeism in a program or department, it is important to be able to identify signs of chronic absenteeism:
- No-call-no-shows. Many employers consider it to be cause for dismissal after 3 days, when an employee fails to show up for work without notifying someone (either their supervisor or HR) of their absence. The newest term for this is ghosting. It’s always important to document the situation and notify the employee by phone and in writing that if they do not contact you within (specify your timeline) you consider this a resignation.
- Calling in sick. Everyone gets sick from time to time, however, employees who call in sick on a regular basis may be using illness as an excuse to avoid coming to work for other reasons, especially if they call last-minute and/or they have used up all their official sick/PTO leave.
- Leaving early or arriving late. Showing up to work late or leaving early, is another form of absenteeism that can negatively impact both the employee and the employer. This too creates a burden for other staff.
When addressing absenteeism always document, track, and discuss the issue with your employee.
Tips to Preventing Employee Absenteeism
Developing a workplace culture that encourages consistent attendance can be key to preventing absenteeism. Below are a few pointers to help prevent it on a broader scale:
- Encourage a work-life balance. Employees who enjoy their company culture and don’t always feel stressed at work are more likely to be excited about coming to work and less likely to miss shifts.
- Be transparent. Talk to employees about concerns before taking official action so that they can correct their behavior on their own.
- Allow for flexibility. When possible, letting employees set their own schedules or allowing them to work from home (or introducing a hybrid schedule) can help them set up a convenient work schedule that doesn’t require missed work.
- Reinforce the desired behavior. While it might be irritating to recognize and reward folks for simply getting to work on time, giving out small rewards or prizes for employees who are always on time does provide positive reinforcement and encourage others to improve their attendance.
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The information contained in this article is not a substitute for legal advice or counsel and has been pulled from multiple sources.