Half of 2020 has passed, and the world is still fighting all consequences of COVID-19. Healthcare departments are trying to contain the virus spread, educational institutions are somehow managing online classes, and many retailers are going online to sell. At the same time, COVID-19 has affected working life to such an extent that has led to high employee absenteeism rates.
This problem might also appear during the best times; thus, employers must manage absenteeism in different situations. In the current time, it is a bit more challenging as employers must allow unwell employees to self-quarantine at home, for at least 14 days, as per the public health guidelines.
Read on to learn how to manage and reduce employee absenteeism amidst the fight with COVID-19.
- Make Clear Workplace Policies
At the workplace, things start with clear communication, guidelines, and policies. It is essential to review already existing workplace policies and improve them or write new, transparent policies. It would also be useful to consider adding flexibility criteria; train all leaders and managers on how to manage the policies and allow flexibility as per the requirement level.
With the effective implementation of appropriate policies, employers’ job to manage employee absences is almost done. Management should always be fair and firm with employees while being openly empathetic during the tough times like the current. It is advised to review employees’ roles and responsibilities and keep track of the same, in order to manage the effects of their absence on operations proactively.
- Leave Programs
Many workplace programs can help reduce absence. If employees find it costly to be absent for work, it can influence their decision to take leave. Companies can also implement comprehensive programs such as full attendance incentives, performance pay, apart from improving workplace policies, and encouraging employee loyalty.
Sickness absence is a common challenge that stays throughout the year, but things need to be managed responsibly when it occurs frequently. For instance, establish a robust communication system, ensure employees are aware of the projects their colleagues are working on, and have access to relevant data so that they can handle the project while one or some of their teammates are on sick leave. Operations must go on.
- Consistent Enforcement of Policies
Maintaining consistency is difficult that it seems. Even after knowing workers’ absence can hinder your business operations and workflow, you might have to allow them day-offs when facing health issues or going through other stressful situations.
Policies are easier to implement when they include flexibility as per cases. Consistent enforcement of policies is also essential to prevent the practice of discrimination or favoritism. Some supervisors, for instance, may be harsh, while some can be lenient. This inconsistency in leadership behavior might cause employee resentment. Therefore, it is crucial to implement workplace and attendance policies consistently; all managers and team leaders should be trained on how to accomplish the same.
- Have a Time Tracking System in Place
Utilizing a time tracking or attendance system is recommended to keep track of employees’ working time. This might include a time punch machine, spreadsheet, time tracking software, etc. to record working hours. This way, the tracking system will also track the time off employees take during the day.
Using a suitable time tracking system helps identify employees that are taking more time off than spending hours on work. This record or data can be used to inform employees about how they need to improve and follow workplace and attendance policies, reducing time off and leaves. Not only this, clear and precise attendance records also greatly help with accurate payroll processing.
- Keep considering Remote Work Options
Despite several restrictions, business owners want to restart operations, and many have taken the ‘work from home’ approach, which is here to stay. Employers and managers know and understand the public is terrified of getting infected by the coronavirus. Thus, in case if employees are working well from home and giving good results, it would be better to continue this by the time things actually become fine on the ground.
Work from home will be a great option at different times. Allowing employees to choose between the office and home to work for a few days can be a great strategy to keep them encouraged toward their job and decrease absenteeism.
- Divide the Workforce into Shifts
There are several concepts about flexible working; for example, some experts suggest running your business in both day and night shifts can help keep compliance with current regulations of operating with 50% staff. Another thing that can be done is to get half employees at work for two weeks and allow them two weeks off; rotating this shift can ensure containing the virus spread.
Some businesses have also following a four-day workweek, making Fridays either optional or a day with no meetings. Experts say this can effective for mitigating stress, burnout, bringing balance between work and personal life. Happily satisfied employees are more likely to take less or almost no leaves.
- Reward Good Attendance and Go for Temps
Ensure not implementing fine on sick leaves, in fact, encourage good attendance practices by offering rewards. Motivate your employees, provide attendance bonuses and incentives. This can be the easiest way to minimize absenteeism as employers only need to give positive feedback and reward to employees with good attendance.
Another option is for business continuity; in case many employees are taking leaves due to several reasons, temp agencies are a better option to continue operations. Outsourcing some back-office services to a trusted outsourcing firm can get you out of several business risks. For example, employees should be satisfied with working for a company, you, as the owner can find competent payroll outsourcing services so that to keep the process streamlined and employees happy.
Similar to the trending WFH (work from home) approach, outsourcing is the next best option in times of crisis like the current. You can outsource a variety of services to professional outsourcing service providers, in order to fill the resource gap due to high absenteeism, employees on extended leave, staff shortage, and difficulty in finding deserving candidates for the job requirement.
You may also contact your business associates or known running their own business to comprehend what different they are doing to tackle challenges came along the COVID-19 outbreak. Do everything possible to minimize employee absenteeism, but employee health and safety should be the top priority of any business organization.