It’s no secret that employees can’t show up for work at your company every day. Employees often take the day off because they’re authorized to do so, but unplanned employee absences also happen because of unforeseen circumstances.
Employee absences are instances where employees miss work unexpectedly. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the absenteeism rate for full-time employees was 3.2% in 2021. While occasional absences are to be expected, they can become a chronic long-term issue that costs your company more than just money.
Employee absences not only affect productivity levels and profit margins but also negatively affect your company culture. But organizations that invest in their company culture can often mitigate these effects. If your organization is consistently recognizing employees when they’re excelling, there’s a much better chance that your employees will remain productive and engaged.
Over 40% of employed Americans feel like they’d put more energy into their work if they were recognized more often. In addition, business units with engaged employees were not only 17% more productive but reduced absenteeism by 41%.
Here are eight ways these absences impact your company culture and strategies to manage excessive employee absenteeism.
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1. Mental Health Issues
There’s no denying the fact that your employees have probably had to deal with stress at the workplace before. With increased employee absences, the employees who have to pick up the slack may have to face deeper mental health issues.
The problem may be more widespread than you realize, with 19% of U.S. workers rating their mental health as either fair or poor (Gallup). Whether your employees suffer from depression, anxiety, or other mental illnesses, a wellness program can go a long way towards improving employee well-being and reducing unplanned absences in the future.
2. Poor Quality Of Work
If employee absences are a consistent issue in your company, other employees will likely have to complete extra work within tighter deadlines. Over time, this will lead to jobs and tasks that aren’t completed correctly.
While you should be concerned about burnout at your company, poor work can also affect your organization’s revenue and reputation. The best solution here would be to lay out your attendance policy to all employees and make it clear that future unplanned absences will not be tolerated. If no attendance policy exists currently, create one — and put it in writing.
3. Rising Costs
When employees don’t show up for work, it costs their company money in more ways than one. First, there are the administrative costs of managing the absence and the potential cost of replacing that absent employee for the day with a temporary worker.
Second, organizations may need to pay other employees overtime to compensate for the missed workload. Either way, the organization’s bottom line is affected.
If your company loses significant money because of unplanned absences, consider hiring an absence manager. This manager can track team absences, contact employees who don’t show up to work, and help you get to the root cause of the issue faster.
4. More Stress On Management
If employees keep taking unexpected absences, this will cause a major strain on employees that work in a management role. They will have to scramble to find replacement workers, and frequent absences can cause additional tension between management and employees.
One way to manage this issue is to give management more tools to keep track of absences. Once you understand which employees miss work the most, have a one-on-one meeting to communicate how they are affecting management and the organization as a whole.
5. Lower Employee Engagement
If your employees take more absences, there’s a good chance that they aren’t as engaged as they once were. However, this also acts as a feedback loop – the more employees take unauthorized absences, the more it can negatively impact employee experience. This is especially true in situations where leadership is absent.
To address this situation, find out which managers have the most engaged employees, and whether a particular management style is working. If you can identify some strategies that are working, have other managers duplicate those habits to improve employee engagement.
Don’t forget to offer positive feedback to employees who consistently attend work and exceed expectations. Employee rewards and shout-outs offered through platforms like Cooleaf are a great way to both recognize employees and boost employee morale.
6. Increased Employee Turnover
We know that employees are less likely to be engaged if they work at an organization where employees are often absent. Over time, many may pursue opportunities outside the company, leading to turnover issues.
Creating an effective employee retention strategy will not only help prevent turnover, but also reduce employee absenteeism. If you foster a workplace environment where employees are excited to show up every day, you’ll attract more engaged, motivated employees who truly care about your company’s success.
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7. Decrease In Team Performance/Productivity
It should also be obvious that excessive employee absenteeism affects more than individual productivity. One worker’s absence could affect how an entire team performs, especially when supervisors or co-workers must step up and handle additional responsibilities.
If you see an obvious decrease in team performance because of absences, it’s time to think about switching things up. By implementing team-building exercises or offering team members a more active role in choosing their work schedule, you’ll communicate that you care about the needs of your employees and that you want them to be satisfied at work.
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8. Decline In Morale
No one wants to end up doing more work than expected, but this often happens in an organization that suffers from many unplanned absences.
Organizations must understand that rewarding employees is necessary to improve morale in a post-pandemic world. One tactic that can help improve employee morale is to reward employees for consistency as well as high performance. Recognizing hard work on a day-to-day basis will help employees feel valued and connected to your team’s culture.
To improve employee morale in general, your organization should consider putting programs in place to both incentivize and reward employees. This might involve something as simple as your organization celebrating employee birthdays consistently, or implementing a more comprehensive program to reward consistent attendance and team wins.
A Better Company Culture = Less Absences
It’s easy to only consider the bottom line when you think about your employees being unexpectedly absent. The truth is that these absences could end up causing significant problems over time that slowly erode your company culture.
If you’re serious about decreasing absenteeism, you should be investing in programs that incentivize and reward your employees as much as possible. HR professionals agree: over 91% of them believe that recognition and rewards make employees more likely to stay. If you want to reduce absenteeism, you’ll have to spend a lot of time building and maintaining a more positive and inclusive company culture.