As a business leader or people manager, one challenging people issue you will have to deal with is managing staff absences. It is not only a difficult for you as a manager but also something that impacts upon the team and wider business.
These absence management issues not only affect staff morale but also really impact your bottom line. Some tips which will assist with managing absence effectively are;
You should have clear absence policies in place so all employees know what is required of them in terms of requesting annual leave, reporting absences and keeping you informed during any periods of absence. However, as this isn't always the case, uncertainty leads to problems developing as your people are unclear about what is or isn't acceptable - and any support available - they may be more likely to rely on feigning illness when in fact they have a last minute caring responsibility to deal with.
If you do have policies in place, take time to remind your people - these policies should not be referred to on Day 1 and then filed away never to be looked at again. Keep them available on a shared server, or HR portal so they are readily accessible to anyone who may need them.
Firm and fair is key to successful absence management; your absence policies need to be applied fairly and consistently to all employees. This gives everyone a clear understanding of expectations and also implications if they do not work inline with company policies.
As an employer make sure you review absence and attendance records for everyone and discuss these with your people. Sometimes they may not be aware of how much time off they have had. Similarly, if people know that their absences are being monitored and recorded they may improve if presented with the facts.
Be open and honest
If there is a concern regarding frequent absences of an employee - have a conversation about it! Ideally, a Return to Work Interview should be completed following the absence so you can understand what the reasons for the absences are. Simple support interventions may be all that is needed to improve the situation.
Create a culture where people feel they can approach you if they are struggling, whether this is with workload or with a personal situation. Unfortunately, difficult stuff happens in people's personal lives which will sometimes affect their performance, and as an employer if you know about it you can help support them with the problem.
Knowledge really can be power - take time to train yourself and your managers in how to deal with people absence issues. Don't assume that managers will have the skills to understand and address people problems, as not all will. Manager may be very skilled technically however not so skilled with people management. Holding effective and constructive conversations is a skill that can be taught, and once this skill is embedded in your managers, it will provide them with the ability to understand and manage their team's needs effectively.
Training managers to what identify what may be the early signs of stress so they can offer interventions can be key to tackling absence issues. Early intervention can often resolve a situation before it escalates into something that may have a detrimental impact on the individual or the team as a whole.
Are absence levels an issue for you? Not sure what policies you should have in place? Contact me for more information on this or any other HR related question.