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Managing Employee Absence: 3 Tips for Entrepreneurs

There are various reasons for an employee to miss work, some are acceptable but others not. Excessive employee absence can cause huge loss to the finances of a firm. This behavior is more damaging when the pattern is irregular and the leaves are unscheduled. In addition to cost, other effects of employee absenteeism may include:

  • Lost productivity
  • Overstaffing, to mask work loss
  • Overtime by other employees
  • Decreased motivation and enthusiasm of other employees due to over working
  • Temporary staff hiring
  • Dissatisfied clients due to unavailability of services

According to a white paper by Cascadehr on employee absence, only two fifths of organizations are currently monitoring the cost of absence and only one fourth achieved their targets. Follow these tips for managing employee absence and proper scheduling of your employees.

Managing Employee Absence: 3 Tips  for Entrepreneurs

#1. Developing Strict but Flexible Policies

Various instances of casual workplace absenteeism cab be avoided with a clear, written policy regarding leaves, work timings and consequences of unscheduled time offs. For instance, when an employee misses work due to illness, it is impossible to determine if she was actually sick, unless company policies require a written excuse from a doctor. Make your regulations, considering the following factors:

  • Define terms clearly: In your policies, define the meaning of absenteeism, tardiness, abandonment etc clearly, like the law books. Make clear to your employees, how are they misconducting regarding the rules.
  • Absenteeism, Tardiness and failure to clock in or out: There are extreme instances when an employee has to take urgent leave when he or she cannot follow proper procedure. Provide some flexibility to the number of such leaves and unscheduled time-offs.
  • Notifying Departments: If the employee is expected to show up late or stuck due to an emergency, lay detailed guidelines for notifying relevant authorities and supervisors. Levy heavy penalties for prolonged absenteeism without notification.
  • Progressive indiscipline: As mentioned above, policies must provide flexibility to incorporate exceptions but if the person shows unacceptable behavior for extended periods counsel him under Disciplinary guidelines and do not hesitate to terminate him.
  • Procedure for scheduling offs: Lay detailed guidelines for leave approval and make it as simple as possible. An effortless way to schedule leaves encourages employees to take valid permissions. It cuts down unauthorized holidays and eases the functioning of the firm.

#2. Automating Attendance with Dedicated tools

New developments are pushing industries towards automation, for minimum human intervention in error prone services. Latest time clocks have digital machinery which automates attendance keeping and shares data across various departments for further usage, like payroll generation, insurance covers etc. It has various advantages:

  • Eliminates manual hard work and a need to crosscheck for data duplicacy and errors. It improves ROI by eliminating loopholes, time consumption and errors arising due to manual attendance entry.
  • Makes the system less prone to getting fooled by employees from time theft and fake entries. A biometric attendance system necessitates the presence of employees, eliminating buddy punching.
  • Eases the process of calculating payroll, especially for a staff with different rates of pay. It manages your finances with tracking of wages and hours, employee count, working status, workforce distribution, over time, pay offs etc.
  • Makes the information easily accessible and shareable.  It allows employees to track data and manage their time related tasks. It helps them to get prompt information about their work hours without endlessly waiting for HR’s reply.

#3. Let Employee Self-Service and Document Everything

Without a proper channel to record the unavailability of the workforce, cost to company remain hidden and mount up to enormous scales. They become evident in yearly/quarterly financial reports, by which time the organization had suffered a great deal. When an employee is allowed to manage their work, offs and other related activities, themselves, it exponentially improves their morale and productivity. Let them take control of their professional lives and increase their value by:

  • Making records available, about work hours, time offs, overtime etc. Give your employee different ways to notify authorities and supervisors of unforeseen emergencies. Give them options and tools to manage their work hours.
  • Provide different options for the workplace. Improved telephony has enabled employees to work remotely without the need of sitting in a physical office space. Help your employees to work on their own terms and track their movements with geolocation.
  • Tracking in real-time and giving value to employee work time. As compared to scheduled working hours, employees prefer to work with flexible timings. Instead of 9 to 5 working window, time your employees when they clock in for a flexible 9-hour shift. Measure work hours and time offs in real time and provides alerts when the employee is nearing overtime.

It is very important to keep exhaustive details of employee work history, for Insurance claims, auditing, legal and tax purposes. Keep data about employee movement and the smallest work related activities like short time offs, lunch breaks etc. Make sure to transfer all the paper trails of such data to digital systems. Data stored in electronic devices are easily shareable. There are two types of systems to secure such data:

  • Cloud based systems – These are softwares in which an employee has to log in and out of the system every time he conducts an activity. This data has an unmatched benefit of being safe from accidental wipe off. The system includes software upgrades and other online support.
  • On-premises system – They are physical tools, where an employee has to enter credentials for correct time keeping. They are fairly easy to set up and use. The data may be stored on a hard disk or integrated with a cloud-based service. It is wiser to have a copy of data for easy backup and restoration.

There may be legitimate reasons for staff absenteeism like injuries, illness, childcare or other family issues, but it is important to get it properly scheduled. A working firm must have a structure to manage staff and validate such unforeseen emergencies as it directly affects the profitability of a business. In the long run, unscheduled leaves may result in low workforce morale.

The results of unscheduled employee absenteeism may seem large but it is easy to reduce the damage. Use the above-mentioned tips to tackle such issues and transform your workplace into a healthy work environment.

Image: An open spot on an org chart is left by someone who has gone missing, either out on medical leave or on vacation or just late, or perhaps even fired, and in his or her place is a sign reading Absent


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Joydeep Bhattacharya is a digital marketing analyst who is into the field of search engine optimization and internet marketing since 2009. He is the author of seo blog, seosandwitch.com where he provides information related to SEO, SMO and internet marketing. http://www.seosandwitch.com/

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