How Do I Manage Employee Absenteeism?

Geri Terzo

Many companies have an absentee policy that gets communicated to employees upon being hired. There are times, however, when absenteeism becomes out of hand and seemingly unmanageable by a superior. Broad absentee guidelines may be created or brought to the attention of an entire team so that one individual employee does not feel singled out. Also, professionals in a human resources department may be used to step in when someone is missing too much work so that it does not create a strain between the manager and the employee.

An open communication policy may help employers manage employee absenteeism.
An open communication policy may help employers manage employee absenteeism.

Excessive absenteeism can be a financial drain not only on a department but an entire company. Businesses can lose money, and relationships can become compromised. Attending employees may feel overworked by having to take on the burden of the missing worker's responsibilities. While being absent for a sickness, injury, or another personal matter is a necessary function of the job market, problems arise when privileges are abused. It is the responsibility of a manager to communicate and enforce some absentee procedures so that employees know what is expected of them and any potential consequences to violating those rules or at least to make sure employees are aware of those parameters.

Employee absenteeism can translate into others being overworked.
Employee absenteeism can translate into others being overworked.

Create a written work attendance policy, and distribute it to all members of a team or entire company. Require that each employee, present and new, sign the policy to show that the expectations are understood. Employees do not want to be treated as children, but if there is abuse of this policy, there may need to be a warning system or some type of consequence given. For instance, if an employee's absenteeism surpasses a certain number of days over a period of time, issue a letter alerting this individual about the status and potential repercussions.

An open communication system between a boss and employees can help to curb excessive absenteeism. If an employee is feeling stressed about the workload or other work relationships, this problem can manifest itself through missing work. By creating an environment where an employee is free to unload some of those concerns, the emotional well-being of the employee may be helped, which can reduce absenteeism.

As soon as it appears that an employee is having attendance problems, schedule a meeting with the individual. Find out if there are personal problems occurring at home or if it is work related. Introduce a member of the human resources team if necessary, or just work together with the individual to devise ways improve work attendance.

Discussion Comments


@fBoyle-- You're right but shouldn't there be exceptions to this absenteeism policy?

I think it would be unfair to punish someone for missing work when they are sick or when a loved one has passed away. These are emergencies and it can happen to anyone.


@fify-- I don't agree with you. It's not necessary to like the people we work with to do our job. Employees have to be professional even when there are problems at the workplace.

Absenteeism in the workplace can only be managed by a reward and punishment system. Those who are absent above a certain threshold should be punished and those with the least absenteeism should be rewarded. This is the best way to to deal with this problem in my opinion.

As for what the punishments and rewards will be, I'm not sure but it should provide enough incentive for people to avoid missing work days.


I think that employee and employer relations are very important when it comes to employee absenteeism. If there isn't a productive and positive environment at work, employees will not enjoy being there and work absenteeism will go up.

Conflict at work cannot be eliminated but there are ways to help people see eye to eye and cooperate with one another. If people enjoy being around the people they work with, they will look forward to going to work.

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