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10 Common Employee Attendance Issues and How to Prevent Them

written by: •edited by: Linda Richter•updated: 5/19/2011

According to a survey by Kronos Inc., absences cost businesses more than eight percent of payroll, directly and indirectly. Following are ten common employee attendance issues, listed in alphabetical order, as well as ideas on preventing and managing them.

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    Childcare Problems

    Father and Child 

    Employee attendance issues may occur when a staff member experiences childcare problems. This may be due to a recent divorce or separation, ill children, or difficulty finding care that the employee can afford. A sensitive manager or H.R. personnel manager may wish to discuss the issue with the employee and offer ideas on ways to correct the issue. For instance, some businesses implement policies for employees bringing children to work. Others help pay for daycare as an employee benefit. Come up with some solutions that fit your budget and your employees' needs.

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    Domestic Violence

    Sadly, domestic violence is a cause of attendance problems. While it is not a manager's role to diagnose abuse, if you notice an employee with frequent unexplained bruises or wearing excessive clothing (presumably to hide such bruises), an extreme number of personal phone calls (abusers often "check in" as a form of control), and other signs in conjunction with multiple absences, speak to the employee. Rather than bringing up your suspicions, talk about performance-related problems and voice your concern for the employee. Clarify that you are there not to judge but to help, and refer the staff member to your Employee Assistance Program and local domestic violence hotline.

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    Family Problems

    An array of family problems can cause absences, from divorce to a teen experiencing difficulties to a new child in the home. Providing access to counseling helps to prevent these types of employee attendance issues as well as offer a way to work through them. Refer employees to your Employee Assistance Program any time these struggles arise.

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    Low Morale

    When employees are unhappy in their current position, have seen another round of layoffs, or feel unappreciated, attendance may begin to drop along with morale. Stave off this problem by providing feedback and employee recognition. Ensure that staff members know they can approach management with questions, concerns, and struggles, and welcome them when they do so. Preventing low morale is much easier than correcting it.

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    Illness

    Sick Employee 

    Of course, employee attendance issues include all types of illnesses. Sicknesses will put even the most reliable employees out of commission now and then. Expect and allow for sick days, but take steps to prevent them as well. Keep tissues, hand sanitizer, and disinfectant sprays throughout the workplace, particularly during cold and flu season. Encourage contagious employees to rest at home rather than passing an illness on to other staff members.

     

     

     

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    Job Shopping

    An employee may suddenly begin to have frequent absences if she is seeking employment elsewhere. Along with increased attendance issues, watch for a decrease in productivity as well as an increase in Internet usage and dressier attire for lunchtime interviews. If you suspect a staff member is job shopping, meet with her privately and ask for an honest answer. If she is leaving for a reason that can be corrected, take steps to do so. If, however, you determine it is in the best interest of both parties that she continues to seek other employment, you may wish to begin your own search for her replacement.

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    Personal Business

    Some employees may take time off for personal business, such as medical appointments or a child's field trip. One way to prevent missed work for these events is to establish a flex time policy that allows staff members to make up or prepare for time they would like to take off.

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    Stress

    Stressed Employee 

    If an employee is under a great amount of work-related stress, he may begin to call in sick simply to avoid the pressure. If you notice that an employee seems tense and uncharacteristically short-tempered, and you are aware that he is under a heavier workload or more stringent deadline than usual, reach out to help. Provide adequate training and assistance for staff members to complete their jobs on time and to the best of their abilities.

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    Substance Abuse

    Substance Abuse 

    Substance abuse takes many forms and is a common cause of employee attendance issues. If you notice things such as a change in personal hygiene and appearance, poor judgment, listening skills and problem solving abilities along with an increase in absences or general tardiness, take care to monitor the employee and document what you see. Refer to your company's policies on substance abuse and act accordingly. You have the right to expect staff members to show up on time and prepared to work, and may choose to send someone home if you feel she is unfit in her current condition. It is important to remember, though, that substance abuse and mental illness may manifest in much the same manner, so take care not to judge too quickly or harshly.

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    Working Relationships

    Finally, strained relationships, gossip, and rumors can cause employees to miss work. Prevent and manage this issue by incorporating regular team building exercises. As staff members learn to work together they will see the value that each person brings to the team and gain respect for one another. This makes your workplace a better place to be.

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    Image Credits

    Father and Child: sxc.hu/pop catalin

    Sick Employee: sxc.hu/Mike Johnson

    Stressed Employee: sxc.hu/carl dwyer

    Substance Abuse: sxc.hu/Andrew Richards






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