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The dos and don'ts when dealing with absenteeism

by , 27 February 2014
You must tread carefully when you deal with absenteeism in the workplace. The last thing you want is to exacerbate the problem. Use these dos and don'ts as a starting point.

Human Capital Review says that 'sick absenteeism should be at about 1.5%, which means that for every 250 working days per year, the average employee should take 3.75 days off sick. But most South Africa companies have an overall absenteeism rate of between 3.5 and 6%, way over the acceptable limit.'

In October last year, we reported that a 2013-14 Global Competitiveness Report showed that South Africa is losing its competitive edge due to absenteeism. In fact, the country loses more than R19 billion per year due to sick absenteeism.

So how do you deal with this huge problem?

The best way to deal with any problem is to know what to do and most importantly what not to do.

Here are the dos of dealing with absenteeism

#1: Measure it

Record absence and regularly highlight it to managers and supervisors, says Management Today.

'The quicker you alert your managers, the quicker they can deal with it appropriately. The old adage that you can't manage what you can't measure is absolutely true in the case of absence management.'

#2: Have an absenteeism policy

It's important that your employees know what's allowed and what isn't. In this article, we gave you the seven things to include in your absenteeism policy.

#3: Stick to your absenteeism policy

'Rigidly enforce the policy. It needs to be monitored and enforced quickly, consistently and fairly to curb unscheduled absence and unauthorised sick days,' says Management Today.

The site says more than half of employed adults believe that their work performance is negatively impacted when attendance policies aren't fairly enforced.

#4: Be realistic

Management Today says sometimes employees really do need to take some time out that simply can't be planned.

'Allow staff to take a maximum number of days each year as 'Duvet Days' at short notice. This will improve morale and you will get more out of your employees in the long term.'

So what should you avoid when dealing with absenteeism?

The Learning Company says don't shout at employees when enforcing polices as this doesn't work.

'There's no point of shouting at a member of staff to change their attendance record. This is like trying to steer your car using the horn.'
In addition, don't punish employees.

The site adds that giving people unpopular jobs, reducing overtime, constant criticism, restricting the employee from doing popular jobs, ignoring them and giving them the last pick of weeks for holidays, doesn't work when disciplining them for absenteeism.

Remember that discipline isn't punishment; it's more of a corrective action. Knowing what to do and what not to do will help ensure you deal with absenteeism effectively.

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