A decade ago, tracking the real-time attendance of employees would’ve been unfathomable. But today, HR managers can track, review, and render reports of workforce attendance in real-time. In fact, there is no shortage of attendance management and tracking system solutions for HR professionals.
But achieving business goals becomes a far-fetched impossibility when several employees don't show up to perform daily tasks. Once poor attendance becomes a norm in a company, it demoralizes other employees since they have to pick up the absentees’ burden. And when the burden of responsibility spirals out of control, it dissuades employees from being productive and remain loyal to the company.
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Understand the Impact of Absenteeism
Many companies often realize it too late that their absenteeism impacts their bottom line. Sure, the job marketplace has become competitive, but it doesn’t mean HR managers can replace employees with high absenteeism right away. In fact, if employees have solid grounds for being absent, the company cannot terminate their contracts.
The trick is to identify the root causes of absenteeism and take proactive actions to improve overall employee attendance. No matter what actions you take, don’t expect the attendance to hit 100% overnight. Instead, notice gradual changes after you take personalized measures to curb the rising absenteeism in the workplace.
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Average Sick Days and What Should be the Approach of HR Professionals
On average, data shows that the number of sick days an employee takes per year is five in the United States. But problems start when this number gets multiplied, and employees start to take more sick days than the average number of sick days. In this situation, the goal of HR managers should be to manage and forecast goals and “how” attendance would impact achieving those objectives.
HR managers understand that employees are valuable assets for the company. This makes it all the more reason to address the problems that are leading to high absenteeism. Getting and maintaining a high office attendance allows companies to hit targeted goals and improve their bottom line.
Take a Closer Look at Attendance
As an HR manager, you have to look beyond the fundamentals of poor attendance. Understand the cause-and-effect of high absenteeism and how it can wreak havoc on company operations. Many companies don’t have a work-from-home protocol that propels employees to take a leave of absence. Apart from flexibility, you have to approach attendance as a ticking bomb and cover employees' concerns immediately. After all, high absenteeism impacts workforce management, time discipline, and productivity.
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The Need to Maintain High Office Attendance
Tracking attendance is essential to ensure reliability, consistency, and profitability. Productivity, discipline, smooth operations, accurate payroll, or compliance - all tie together with attendance management.
Many reports centered on the United States highlight the issue of high absenteeism at work. To be honest, there could be many reasons for employees to be absent from work. Your goal should be to focus on essential elements that trigger absenteeism in “your” organization.
Keeping that in mind, lets’ take a look at the best ways that can help you attain and maintain high and consistent office attendance:
How to Attain and Maintain High Office Attendance
Gather All Attendance Data
Data is the Holy Grail, and when dealing with high absenteeism, it is important to collect, store, and review all raw data. Think of the collected absenteeism data as a gateway to establish entry points. You can use these entry points to understand the reasoning behind attendance and how you can respond.
Using attendance records and employee behavior, you can develop personalized solutions to reduce the number of absents per employee. If you want to bring down office absenteeism, make sure to collect accurate data rather than depend on intuition. If you have a high volume of data, use an analytics tool to make sense of data and see the frequency of absents of each employee.
Use an Attendance Management System
The world has gone full digital, and it makes sense for companies to take advantage of new tech solutions that make it easier to manage and track office attendance. But like any system, ensure your attendance software solution is connected with other systems to get the full picture of your attendance. In fact, integrating your attendance solution with other systems will allow you to see hidden causes and patterns of absenteeism that ordinarily would not have been possible.
Combine Payroll and Attendance
It may sound simple, but combining payroll and attendance can reduce absenteeism. Well, managing office attendance has a direct connection with payroll. For instance, if there are mistakes in the attendance data, you will end up underpaying or overpaying your employees. You can manually analyze attendance data before processing payroll, but to save time, use an HR payroll tool to calculate work hours, loss of pay, and overtime in a matter of minutes.
Set Clear Employees’ Expectations
When HR managers don’t communicate clear expectations with the employees, it leads to high absenteeism. So, create a fair attendance policy with expectations and rules to curb high absenteeism. If you run a small business, you can outline key points of the policy, like time off, attendance processes, repercussions, etc.
And before you draft and execute the attendance policy, ensure it fits your company culture. And most importantly, talk to your staff, ensure they understand the new attendance policy, and listen to their concerns and expectations from the workplace.
Ensure Workplace Flexibility
Today’s workplace environment has to be flexible to encourage and motivate employees to work hard. If you want to minimize unscheduled absenteeism, bring more flexibility into the workplace by creating a practical attendance policy. For starters, avoid adding elements in your attendance policy that might trigger Gen Z and millennials.
Take the concerns and questions of your employees under consideration and make decisions without bias or prejudice. Of course, flexibility also means giving employees the option to work remotely or be part of the hybrid work mode to ensure their physical or virtual presence.
Opt for Self-Sustainable Maintenance
That’s right – you can convince your employees to manage their daily attendance. In the long run, this would become an added convenience for the HR managers to process and manage attendance data. The idea is to reduce the questions and concerns employees might have for the HR managers.
Once office attendance is self-sustainable, employees will be able to separate vacation and work time. You can make a self-service portal for employees to make the attendance policy accessible. Once employees have direct access to this information, they will feel more in control of their personal and work lives and create a balance.
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Identify and Address Hidden Causes
In most cases, poor attendance is the cause of a bigger problem. If there is no illness or injury, find out the hidden cause that makes employees absent. Look out for personal issues, family issues, the pressure of deadlines, work overload, lack of training, and conflict with supervisors or co-workers that might make employees absent.
And before you take disciplinary action, try to address the attendance issue as per labor laws. Once you determine the root cause of absenteeism, creating a plan of action will become easier to bring the specific employee back on track. Similarly, ensure the managers get proper training and reward employees with the most consistent attendance to reduce absenteeism.
Use a Compact Attendance Tracker
Gone are the days of manually tracking, reviewing, and reporting office attendance. Use an automated and advanced attendance tracker. Integrate this solution with other organizational systems to identify inconsistencies and prevent employees from being absent. You can integrate an attendance tracker with biometric devices to keep a close eye on employees’ logged working hours and set geo-restrictions.
In any case, understand that you can convert employee absences into annual days off, which will make payroll processing easier. You can also use the same tool to centralize office attendance in one location. It will provide you with more insightful attendance patterns in the form of reports.
If you overlook high absenteeism, it is bound to turn into a high turnover rate. And that’s because there is something employees are having a hard time dealing with, and you have to find out and address it before it’s too late. HR professionals now understand that attendance management is important to run any company.
Efficient attendance management leads to more productivity. So, make the most out of automated and AI-powered attendance management and tracking solutions. At the same time, use personal intuition and add custom changes on top of using these solutions to see results.
HR professionals can develop a realistic, compliant, and effective attendance policy. It will allow managers to focus on business activities without worrying about employee absenteeism. Ultimately, it requires consistent effort from HR managers to spot and address major attendance issues to lower workplace stress and prevent call-offs.
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By: Brandi Marcene