But there’s a fine line between effectively monitoring and managing absence and scaring or enticing employees into the office when they’re really not well enough to be there.
When creating your absence management strategy, it’s important to be aware of these less desirable outcomes:
Presenteeism is where employees come into work even when they’re not well enough to. It can happen for a number of reasons including feeling worried about job security, having a heavy workload or, ironically, because of attendance incentives.
Whatever the reason, presenteeism is rarely a good thing. The unwell employee is likely to make mistakes, be much less productive and spread their germs around the office causing more sickness. Colleagues who’ve booked holidays are also going to be less than happy having to sit next to their ill colleague when they’re due to jet off to Spain tomorrow.
To combat presenteeism, lots of companies are introducing workplace wellness strategies as they help reduce both absenteeism and presenteeism.
This follows on from presenteeism: if employees feel under pressure to come into work, stress and mental health problems can be exacerbated, which can result in long-term absences.
Additionally, if you make return to work interviews too interrogating, some employees will try to avoid the stress they cause by coming into work when they should be at home in bed. To combat this, make sure that you welcome the employee back to work and, as well as finding out why they were absent, check that they feel they’re well enough to be back in the office.
Here are some things you can do to tackle the root causes of workplace stress.
Since 2014, all employees with 26 weeks’ service have the right to request flexible working6
Flexible working brings businesses a lot of benefits: employees have a better work/life balance so feel more loyal to the company; they’re able to work even if bad weather prevents them from travelling to the office; and there’s less guilt, last minute holiday and lost productivity if their childcare lets them down.
There’s also the benefit that if your employee is a bit under the weather, they’ll be more inclined to log on at home than they will to trek into the office.