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Managing Excessive Employee Absences

Knowledge Center / Blog

Managing Excessive Employee Absences

By The Employer Group - Sep 20, 2023

Employee absences are a normal part of work-life balance. Time off for vacations, illness, emergencies, personal appointments, and time spent with family and personal interests are essential for employee well-being. Time away from work is important for employees to:

  • Avoid burnout
  • Remain engaged
  • Limit excess stress
  • Connect with their friends and family

However, an employee’s excessive absences pose challenges for both employees and the company. Excessive and frequent absences, especially unexcused absences, put stress on the organization’s productivity, culture and especially on coworkers.

Excessive unexcused absences may signal underlying issues such as disengagement, inadequate training, or dissatisfaction with leadership. If you’re a business manager facing this challenge, it’s crucial to meet with the employee to understand the root cause and find a solution promptly. In this meeting, you should find the reason why the employee is more absent and identify what you, the company, and the employee can do to increase attendance.

One reason an employee may have excessive absences is strain in their personal lives. In a SHRM article, Jennifer Thomas talks with Nicole Roberts, People Solutions Group’s President, and writes, “The manager should ask how the individual’s attendance can be improved and set expectations for future behavior,” Roberts says. Consider reasonable accommodations, such as changing work schedules or guiding workers toward an employee assistance program for help with personal issues. Roberts recalls a former employee who started coming into work late two days a week. By talking with the employee, she learned that the individual had recently gained custody of a school-age child, and those days coincided with late starts at the child’s school. Rather than discipline the employee, “we adjusted the employee’s start time for after the bus picked up the child, and there were no further issues,” Roberts says.

Another reason an employee may have excessive absences could be related to their well-being at work:

  • Are they experiencing burnout or excessive stress due to workload?
  • Can you detect signs of workplace harassment?
  • Is there a lack of engagement or health concerns?
  • Are we recognizing the employee in a way they appreciate?

These are all questions that are important to ask when reviewing reasons for absenteeism to identify an issue early and prevent additional absences.

A significant reason employees become disengaged and thus less likely to come to work or do their job well (“quiet quitting”) is a lack of recognition. Employees who work hard but go unnoticed lose motivation to excel. Consider implementing a recognition program that highlights employee performance and aligns with your company’s values. Recognition not only boosts morale but also fosters a sense of belonging. When employees feel appreciated and valued, they are more likely to stay engaged and committed to their roles.

Managing excessive employee absences is a critical aspect of maintaining a productive and healthy workplace. By addressing the root causes of absenteeism, offering support and accommodations, and implementing recognition programs, businesses can create an environment where employees are motivated, engaged, and less likely to take excessive time off.



This information does not constitute legal advice.

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