HR Mavericks

Eddy’s HR Mavericks Encyclopedia

Absence Management

You want to support employees' needs and wellness, but you're also aware that everybody needs to come to work consistently for the company to be successful. Fortunately, there are some tried-and-true best practices HR professionals can use to put an effective and fair absence management policy into place.

What Is Absence Management?

Absence management is the approach employers take to reduce employee absenteeism, avoid workforce disruption, and maximize productivity. This involves striking a balance between supporting those who miss work due illness or injury and disciplining those whose absences might be questionable at fault. It's important for every company's success, because absence-related expenses can really add up. To manage unplanned absences, you need an effective absence policy that outlines how employees should report absences.

Why Is Absence Management Important?

Managing employee absences is a major concern for most employers. Unplanned staffing shortages can wreak havoc on your business and lead to significant losses in productivity, profitability and customer service. Good absence management avoids:
  • Disruption to the business. Unexpected absences of any kind (sick days, family emergencies) can disrupt your business and add stress to your employees. Unplanned staffing shortages make it difficult for teams to get their work done effectively while keeping productivity high and meeting customers' needs.
  • Loss of customers and revenue. When employees miss work unexpectedly, it can also cause an interruption in customer service. Losing customers is bad for business; you will lose revenue as well as referrals from loyal clients who may no longer purchase your services if they cannot rely on the quality of support provided by your team.
  • Financial losses. Unplanned staffing shortages can impact the bottom line. While some organizations may absorb these costs out of goodwill towards their staff members, others are not so lucky; they cannot afford to go on paying salaries when workers aren't there for most part or week. If this happens on multiple occasions throughout the year (and if the absenteeism rate runs particularly high), an employer stands to lose a significant amount of money.

Best Practices

An absence management policy should be just, consistent, and flexible enough to accommodate absences occasioned by sickness or other unforeseen circumstances that cause employees to miss work. Along with increasing attendance, an absence management policy may include programs to increase employee engagement within the organization itself. Best practices related to work attendance are relayed below.

Establish an Employer-to-Employee Value Culture

Establish a culture where:
  • Your organization values its workers enough not to overwork them.
  • Recognizes that most people cannot do their jobs at peak efficiency when they're exhausted or sick (and often end up taking more time off as result).
  • Allows new hires adequate training opportunities before putting them under pressure so they can learn without making costly mistakes.

Provide a Safe and Healthy Work Environment

Having a solid benefits package and workplace wellness programs in place for physical, mental and financial wellbeing are a must. Cover every base you can to ensure that your workforce not only feels as good as possible, but feels better about being at work than not.

Check all Laws and Regulations

Ensure that your absenteeism policy does not violate any laws or state regulations. Consult your state's Department of Labor and legal experts if necessary. Your organization should have sound policies in place before implementing an absence management program, as well as sufficient resources to ensure the policy is followed consistently across all areas of business operation.
Keeping track of absences with an employee attendance tracking system makes it easier to identify patterns, notice trends, and follow up with individual staff members regarding missed days and performance issues, rather than only focusing on last-minute emergencies. Knowing who the repeat offenders are allows you to address a growing issue before it escalates into a situation where you might lose a good employee.

How to Create an Absence Management Policy

Creating a customized absence management policy is well worth the time and effort. The steps outlined below should help you create a policy that is effective and fair.

The Meeting of the Minds

Get your HR team together and draft a comprehensive policy that is just, fair and consistent. It should be able to accommodate absences occasioned by sickness or unforeseen circumstances, like sudden family emergencies. Make sure the statement covers all areas of business operation as well as complies with any relevant legislation.

Plan for Implementation

It can take time for managers to integrate your new policy and procedures consistently across different departments. Plan training sessions for managers long before you implement the policy, and involve them in training staff on the new procedures.

Prevent Bias in Implementation

Use best practices in alignment with your organization's needs and goals to create an absence management policy that works for everyone involved. Ensure that all managers comply with the policy uniformly across different departments to prevent one team member from being rewarded or penalized due to certain factors like their personal views on employee absences, which would be unjust and probably unlawful. For example, if a manager holds one person responsible for an unexcused absence but does not react the way in a similar situation due to their personal view of the situation, this would be seen as problematic. Prepare managers to handle absence issues and concerns with an open mind so they can provide employees with a safe and healthy workplace where they feel comfortable enough to come forward if necessary.

Get Involved

Focus on assisting staff members to avoid missed days of work by monitoring trends, following up with individual workers about missed days and performance concerns, and so on. This should help prevent costly errors that may have a long-term negative influence on the company's overall performance.
Steven Farber

Steven Farber

I spent much of my working life in a whirlwind of uncertainty wondering when I would find a career that would make me happy. After spending 23 years trying to find that 'dream career' I came to a sobering conclusion. I realized that I wasn't looking for a career, but for a purpose and that I would never be happy until I figured out what that purpose was. After a long hard road of trial and error, I concluded that my purpose, the very activity that brought me happiness was when I could bring that happiness to others first. Removing the vast amounts of uncertainty this life can bring for others and replacing it with true peace of mind, gave me my much sought-after peace of mind.
View author page
Frequently asked questions
Other Related Terms
Active Listening
Change Management
Employee Assistance Program (EAP)
Employee Background Check
Employee Discipline
Employee Self-Service (ESS)
Executive Search Firm
HR Communities
Human Resources Manager
Maternity Leave
Paternity Leave
People Strategy
Percentile Ranks
Sabbatical Leave
Sick Leave
Work From Anywhere
Eddy's HR Newsletter
Sign up for our email newsletter for helpful HR advice and ideas.
Simple and accurate payroll.
Pay your U.S.-based employees on time, every time, with Eddy.