A new report in the UK has found that statistics show the lowest level of sickness absence since records began and while this might be good news, when employees do call in sick, sadly not all absence is genuine, no matter where in the world you are.
In fact, unauthorised absenteeism has a significant impact on business productivity and this is felt more at specific times of the year like just after Christmas and especially between January and March.
Neil Pickering, Marketing & Industry Insights Manager at Kronos, says:
Our research shows that 24% of British workers have 5-6 of their working days disrupted by unauthorised absence between January and March, the most disrupted time of the year. Many also feel these absences are not for legitimate reasons, with nearly three-quarters (73%) accusing their colleagues of taking sick leave when they were not ill, and a third admitting taking sick leave when they shouldn’t have. While the ONS report suggests that men are less likely to miss work through illness, our research suggests that they are the most likely to fake illness (40% compared to 32% of women).
This disruption can be significant for both employers and employees. Absenteeism not only means that work is not delivered as efficiently, with colleagues covering roles they are not familiar with, but the stress levels of those employees in work also increase, risking fatigue and burnout.
What you can do to reduce unauthorised absenteeism:
- Show you care – There are a number of ways you can show your employee that you appreciate them but sometimes all it takes is to tell them that you care. This could be as simple as just listening to them. They may not just have issues in the workplace, so letting them know they can open up to you about anything they feel comfortable talking about can go a long way. You don’t even have to approach them. By having an open-door policy, it lets your employees know that they are always welcome to come and talk to you in your office. And if you can entice them in with the offer of cookies or treats that are strategically placed so they can help themselves – then even better.
- Work/life balance – Most people, on average, spend a third of their day at work, possibly more if they work shifts. But it’s important that they don’t spend more time at their desk than they need to, so that they can have some kind of life too. Whether it’s to socialize or spend it with their family, while work is important, spending time outside of work is just as, if not more important. Be conscious about your employees’ work loads. If they are taking longer than usual or staying behind more, then instead of reprimanded them about their pace of work, it might be a good idea to re-evaluate the amount of work you are giving them. If it’s too much then scale it back or share it among others.
- Flexible working – More companies are offering this option to their employees than ever before. Giving your employees the flexibility to work from home or from an office nearer to their home, or even while they’re away from their home or the office, has great benefits. There are a number of myths about flexible working and employees being slack or less committed, but the facts suggest otherwise. In fact, flexible working can increase productivity and employee engagement and is worth considering.
- Employee responsibility – I’m not just talking about the responsibility an employee has to you and the business, but the responsibilities you can give them to make them feel empowered. A lot of managers say they want to empower their employees, but very few actually do it well. In fact it’s a buzzword often used by management, but very rarely practiced effectively in most organizations and that’s for a number of reasons. For a manager to empower their employee there has to be an element of trust on both sides. Trust from the manager that the employee can do the job and manage their time effectively and trust from the employee that they can confidently perform the task. But giving your employees the responsibility to manage their own shift patterns, or the days of the week they want to work from the office or home are just some of the ways you can help make them feel empowered.
There are number of reasons employees are absent from work and while some reasons may be genuine like sickness or bereavement, unfortunately proving unauthorised absences isn’t that easy. By using these tips you can help reduce the amount of unauthorised absences in your company. But if after this has been done, there are certain employees who are still not showing up for work on a regular basis, then there might be another reason they’re avoiding work.