Presented by Sascha Nicoll

Employee absenteeism is a grave HR issue that can significantly impact your business costs and employee wellbeing. In the vlog below, I share some quick tips on managing absenteeism in the workplace to help you handle problematic employee absences proactively and compliantly. For more advice on sick leave and minimising absenteeism, read this article on the HR Assured blog.

Video Transcript

Sascha Nicoll: Hi, my name is Sascha Nicoll, I’m an Employment Relations and Safety consultant at HR Assured New Zealand. It’s part of my role to keep our clients up to date with workplace best-practice and to guide business leaders on a range of HR and H&S matters through our telephone advisory service. Today, I’ll be sharing a quick overview of how to manage absenteeism in the workplace.

What is absenteeism?

Sascha: Absenteeism in HR is defined as constant and habitual patterns of absence from work.

Why is absenteeism important to manage?

Sascha: It’s estimated that absenteeism costs New Zealand over $1 billion per year.

Absenteeism incurs significant costs to a business in a number of ways; the paid leave itself, the cost of covering their absence through the use of temporary staff or paying overtime to existing workers, and decreased productivity and impacts on staff morale.

How can you manage absenteeism effectively?

Sascha: Here are five best-practice steps to manage absenteeism before it grows into a more serious issue:

  1. implement clear leave and absenteeism policies that outline expectations;
  2. communicate with your employees about what is acceptable and what isn’t;
  3. have clear guidelines about absence notification and who employees should notify, how and when;
  4. manage and address continuous or excessive absenteeism as it occurs, even if this means a disciplinary process in certain circumstances. Leaving it and not taking any action may give the indication that it is acceptable behaviour and this will negatively impact workplace culture and morale; and
  5. request evidence or medical certificates where appropriate

What can you do to address absenteeism?

Sascha: If you suspect you have a culture of absenteeism in your workplace, you can try these strategies to turn this around:

  • identify and address the causes of absenteeism in your workplace, For example, is it lack of engagement or motivation or is it stress from heavy workloads;
  • look to improve the work environment and workplace culture. For example, introduce social or sports events, incentives, flexible work arrangements etc.;
  • reduce strain and stress at work and talk to employees about their workload;
  • have face to face ‘wellness’ meetings with your employees when they return from a period of sick leave to check if they’re ok and identify any long term or personal issues early; and
  • explain to employees the negative effect absenteeism has on their colleagues.

If you need further guidance on managing handling absenteeism, please don’t hesitate to contact the team at HR Assured.

For HR Assured clients, contact our 24/7 Telephone Advisory Service.

Not an HR Assured client and need some advice? The team at HR Assured can support your business on a range of workplace matters. Contact us today to arrange a confidential, no-obligation chat.

Sascha Nicoll is an Employment Relations and Safety Consultant at HR Assured New Zealand. She has over 15 years of experience working in the HR industry in both consulting and in-house roles. Sascha supports business leaders on various workplace matters, including people management, health and safety, procedural development, and HRIS support.