Human Resources: How to Handle an Employee Absentee Problem

When an employee is absent from work, other staff members must modify their day to “pick up the slack.” Needless to say, the more frequently someone misses work, the more problems it creates. Managers must quickly address any attendance issues that arise so it does not become a major impediment to business. Here is how to deal with an employee who misses work too often.

Look over your employees records for the past three months. Check for more than one absent in that period by individual employees. Sometimes, we become so busy with daily tasks that we fail to notice a problem developing. By reviewing attendance logs, we often “catch” an issue before it becomes persistent.

Identify staff members with more than one absence in the past quarter. Often, there is a reasonable explanation for missed work such as days missed due to  short-term illness of an employee or one of her family members. When there are non-consecutive days missed in a quarter without explanation, you need to ask the associate about it.

Look for patterns when an employee begins to miss work more often. The “long weekend” is one such example. If the person is absent on a Friday or Monday (or both) on more than one occasion during a single quarter, it is worth investigating to affirm the employee is not abusing his work schedule to obtain mini-holidays.

Communication should always be your first move in addressing human resources issues including problems with attendance. Schedule a one-on-one with the person who has missed work. Allow her to disclose her reason for missing work. Often, there is a simple explanation followed by an assurance that the issue will not recur.

Sometimes, an attendance problem is not resolved with a single discussion. If you are not satisfied with an employee’s excuse(s) regarding missed time or if more absences occur soon after your meeting, it warrants further action. Try to discover what the core issue is by talking more with your staff member. If you suspect a substance abuse issue, refer her to your company’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP) or to community resources as applicable.

Create an action plan with the employee to conquer an ongoing attendance concern. Make the agreement reasonable and straight-forward with clear enforceable consequences for additional absences. Allow for exceptions when there is evidence that one or more absence was unavoidable such as sickness verified by a doctor’s note. Assist an employee with an ongoing challenge as is possible. For example, if your worker struggles with child care, offer more flexible hours or a split shift if you can do so without harming your company.

Track the progress or lack thereof with your employee regularly. Praise perfect or near perfect attendance and encourage its continuance. Should a problem remain, abide by your plan’s conditions. For example, issue a written warning if your plan specified it as a known consequence. If absenteeism continues despite your best efforts at resolution, consider terminating employment as your business depends on your staff’s reliability.

Take appropriate measures to solve employee attendance concerns for the overall health of your organization. Strive to assist struggling workers so they become more engaged about their tenure your company. Attempt to overcome ongoing absenteeism by addressing core causes and putting an effective resolution strategy in place.