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7 strategies to manage employee absenteeism due to COVID-19

Since the beginning of the pandemic, employee absences have noticeably risen. Of course, there was furlough and the necessity for remote working but even now, this is still an issue. With different restrictions and isolation periods, especially for those with children, employees aren’t always able to make it into the office. So what can you do about it? 

As an employer, this is a difficult situation to manage, but it is possible to reduce employee absenteeism during the coronavirus outbreak. Here are 7 effective strategies to boost attendance and productivity.  

  1. Update your absence records  

Now more than ever, it’s crucial that you keep on top of your absence records. With current Covid-19 restrictions, ‘leave due to isolation’ also comes under the umbrella of sick leave. To get a clearer understanding of your employee absenteeism, start categorising your sick leave. This way you can monitor what leave is Covid-19 related, whether any unfortunate patterns begin to occur, and what government support you can receive regarding SSP. 

  1. Flexible working practices  

Flexible working can benefit both you and your employees (and it positively impacts employee absenteeism). How? Because without the pressure of restrictive work policies, employees are able to fit their lifestyle around their working day! By accommodating personal appointments, you reduce the need to request leave in fear of tardiness or over-run appointments and it boosts wellbeing. And that’s not even mentioning that flexible working is very attractive to prospective employees.

  1. Prioritise productivity  

This may seem obvious, but prioritising work completion over hours spent on-site can really benefit your business. Not all sick days are due to sickness and understanding that can reduce employee absenteeism. By allowing your employees to work from home on these occasions, you’re encouraging greater productivity and avoiding them feeling like they need to take an entire day of leave. Foster a results-based outcome rather than a time-based one!

  1. Speak to your team 

With all the trials of everyday life, it’s important to understand that your employees are only human. To tackle excessive absenteeism for personal reasons: 

  • create an environment where your employees feel heard and understood
  • check in with your team and individuals regularly! 

Sometimes absences can be highly personal so create an open conversation between employee and employer. This can provide great insight into the employee work experience, how to better support them and how to prevent absences.  

  1. Compromise can create solutions 

With circumstances changing so quickly, it’s understandable that not everyone is adjusting at the same pace. Perhaps someone is clinically vulnerable and anxious about returning to the office? Or maybe they’re overwhelmed balancing work and home schooling? Whatever the circumstance, it’s important to be considerate of your employees’ own challenges, as these anxieties could be responsible for much of your employee absenteeism. Try to reach a compromise. Whether it be creating a work from home policy or even offering a reduction in hours. Employees that feel better, work better.

  1. Encourage team spirit  

If Covid-19 has taught us anything, it’s that we all need community. You can create that community within your business! Be it through traditional team-building exercises, charity events, or even incentivising healthy competition – encouraging team spirit can hugely improve your employee absenteeism. In not wanting to let others down, some people may choose to cancel leave (if well enough) or even offer to take on extra work when someone else is absent.  

  1. Review your Paid Time Off (PTO) policies  

Once again, our social calendars have become incredibly full. With places reopening, our time off is now a battle between our responsibilities and an expectation to be social. This can easily become overwhelming and can often lead to stress, burnout and even sickness. To prevent this from happening, ensure your employees have sufficient PTO. Not only does this act as a preventative for employee absences, but it can also increase engagement and attract prospective employees. 

By talking with your team and embracing a little flexibility, these strategies can effectively combat any absentee issues you’re facing due to Covid-19. With minimal financial cost, you can support your employees and boost productivity, whilst safely navigating your business through these uncertain times. 

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