According to a recent survey, two out of three people who don’t show up for work aren’t physically ill.
For most businesses, immediate supervisors have the responsibility for handling absenteeism. These managers are often the only individuals who are aware of particular workers being absent. They must also make decisions on how to handle the absence.
Supervisors are also in the ideal position to understand the conditions surrounding a person’s absence and to notice a root cause of absenteeism at an early stage. As a result, supervisors’ active involvement is critical to the overall success of any absence policy or program.
To make sure that managers are comfortable and capable of managing absenteeism, they need to have the complete support of upper management. Everyone must be conscious of the objective of absence policies and procedures. If there are differences between departments, a policy can lose its efficiency.
To offer more regularity, managers ought to be trained in the best practices for managing absenteeism, how to conduct return-to-work interviews and what disciplinary procedures to use when necessary.
Manager Best Practices
In addition to making certain work is properly covered during the worker’s absence, there are several valuable steps supervisors should take to deal with absenteeism.
Supervisors need to make sure all staff members are fully conscious of the company’s policies and procedures concerning absences. Any misunderstandings will only cause frustration and make supervisors’ jobs more difficult.
Supervisors should also maintain comprehensive, precise records for each staff member, including information on dates, reason for absence, projected return date and doctor’s note. These detailed records can help a supervisor spot any concerning trends or patterns.
Many organizations make the mistake of not even conducting return-to-work interviews. They simply stick the employee back into their job and hope for the best.
Return-to-work interviews have been shown to be an effective tool for keeping down short-term absenteeism. These structured conversations should formally welcome the employee back, include filling out any necessary paperwork and discuss ways to stop recurring absences. For instance, if an employee was absent due to crippling sciatica, a return-to-work interview could focus on preventative measures such as orthopedic shoes to wear at work.
This interview should not feel like a form of punishment. It should feel like an occasion to have a healthy discussion on how to keep down absenteeism across the entire company.
If it is determined a continuing pattern of absenteeism isn’t caused by a serious, chronic medical condition, corrective action should be taken. Standard disciplinary programs include five stages: Counseling, verbal warning, written warning, suspension and termination.
The counseling stage involves the employee and supervisor having a candid conversation about a trend of absenteeism. The verbal and written warning stages should address a continuing pattern, any underlying causes, any changes in the situation and the possible consequences of further absenteeism. A suspension should be without pay and be accompanied by written confirmation.
If a decision has been made to terminate an employee, it should be done in accordance with the company’s formal termination policy.
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