This time of year, illnesses of employees or their loved ones, and bad weather, can lead to legitimate spikes in workplace absences. Maintain productivity by following this advice:
• Understand the laws governing absences. All managers should know when employees are entitled to miss work; for example, to take care of sick children or parents. If you deny a request, you could hurt morale—or, worse, land your organization in legal hot water.
• Communicate clearly. First, employees may not understand your policies regardingand tardiness, so revisit the policies and explain your state laws.Second, they may not fully understand how their absence hurts the team. Meet with your team to talk about the challenges you face when you are short a team member, and together come up with a plan for managing unexpected absences. For example, cross-training employees ensures every job can be covered in a pinch.
• Offer employees flexibility. Allow employees to work from home or adjust their schedules as needed so that they can manage personal obligations and complete their work.
• Require employees to call. It’s easier to fake an illness via email or text. Tell employees that they must call you directly to report an absence. Talking to them also gives you an opportunity to ask questions like, “What projects are you working on?” “Is anything due today?” “What can I do to help you keep things on track?” That way, important tasks don’t slip through the cracks, and your employees will appreciate your support.
• Address problems. Monitor absences, and look for patterns that indicate some employees are abusing your PTO policies. If an employee calls out often, leaving the rest of the team in the lurch, talk to the employee and establish consequences if the behavior continues.