Cold and flu season is coming. Employees have probably already started asking off for holiday travel. Sometime in the next few months, you’re probably going to notice you have more staff calling in than usual. You want them to stay home when they’re sick, but you also need them to keep absenteeism to a minimum. There are things you can do to reduce the number of call-ins.
Formalize Your Attendance Policy
Spell out exactly what you expect. Answer the following questions:
- At what time are employees tardy?
- What types of absences will you approve? How should employees document them?
- What is the procedure for requesting an absence?
- How many absences do you consider excessive?
- What disciplinary action will you take if they exceed that number?
- What happens if someone is a “no show”? Are there emergency situations in which you’ll excuse an unscheduled absence or no call?
Put your attendance policy in the handbook, make it a part of new hire orientation and explain it in your next staff meeting.
Sometimes well-meaning employees show up when they’re just coming down with a cold or the flu. You disinfect the bathrooms, but what about other surfaces with which employees come into contact? Make antibacterial wipes available and encourage their use on keyboards, desktops and landlines.
Step back and look for places germs can hide. That candy basket on the breakroom table has been sitting there for months. Employees eat lunch then reach for a piece after touching their faces. The microwave handle, refrigerator door, coffee pot handle and vending machine buttons all need regular disinfection.
Think through the most common reasons your employees miss work and use that to incentivize attendance instead. If you know last year employees called in to get their Thanksgiving shopping done without the crowds, reward perfect attendance the rest of the month with a few hours of flex time to be used as needed. Enter employees who stayed healthy all winter in a raffle to win a massage or gym membership on January 1.
Keep Good Records
When someone calls in, document who it was and why. That might seem like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how many managers rely on their memory. It seems like Suzy’s chair was often empty, but they’re not sure exactly how many days she actually called in sick, how many she was just late and for which ones she claimed a last minute family emergency.
Documentation helps you spot trends. If you see Suzy calls in every Friday and Monday, you know the problem probably isn’t persistent infection. You’ll also notice those employees who never miss a day and deserve recognition.
Often having a formal plan and a reward system clarifies expectations and encourages attendance. Create yours now for employees that show up every day this fall.