The pandemic created numerous complications regarding employee attendance. Many companies shifted to a 100% remote workforce at the outset of the pandemic. Some of these companies are back in the office full time, while others are using a hybrid approach. Regardless, the pandemic upended traditional scheduling and made tracking employee attendance more challenging.
Employers can implement the following to improve attendance during COVID-19:
- Highlight the importance of employees’ roles. If employees don’t see how their job plays a part in the bigger picture, they won’t see how missing a day of work now and then is a problem. When every employee adopts that line of thinking, a company quickly develops an absenteeism issue. This becomes a greater challenge when employees work from home. Employers should explain that every employee’s attendance is critical to achieving company goals, providing superior service, and not overburdening coworkers with extra work.
- Define clear notice requirements. Attendance policies should be clear on how much notice an employee needs to provide for an absence. Otherwise, employees are likely to wait until the last minute to discuss it. While some absences are truly last-minute, such as a sudden illness, employees should give ample notice for known future appointments.
- Create a policy for reporting unforeseen absences. Without a clear policy, employees may think they can miss work without an explanation until the following day. This creates confusion and hinders productivity. Employers should explain how and when employees need to report unexpected absences (i.e., by phone, email, or text as soon as the employee can reasonably do so). Employees working from home may not understand how waiting until the next day to explain their absence matter since they aren’t in an office environment.
- Clarify paid leave policies. Employers need to explain that employees can’t treat their paid leave as automatic approval for taking time off work. Employees need to understand how absence reporting and notification policies interact with paid leave policies to avoid labor gaps and productivity problems. This is particularly important in a remote environment as employees working from home may not realize they need approval before leaving in the middle of work hours.
Ambiguous attendance policies create a breeding ground for absenteeism. Providing clear guidelines helps ensure employees follow protocols when requesting leave or notifying employers of their absence. To learn more about managing attendance, contact the experts at Actec.
When a significant number of employees begin to call out of work or a single employee incurs an abnormal number of unscheduled absences, most businesses know their first step to rectifying the issue is to identify the cause. Stress outside of the workplace, unpleasant managers, and more can contribute to employee absenteeism. However, with COVID-19, businesses already know the why. The pandemic has changed everything about “business as usual” and absence management is no exception.
Companies can take the following actions to manage COVID-related absences in a compassionate, reasonable way:
- Update attendance policies. Businesses will need to create new guidelines that are fair to the staff as well as the company. Pre-COVID policies will fall short of reality and create confusion for employees. Most policies will likely require increased flexibility to allow employees to comply with self-quarantine guidelines should they fall ill or experience COVID-19 symptoms.
- Plan for absences. Unlike other forms of absenteeism, companies know with a reliable degree of certainty that COVID-19 will cause significant absences in the coming months. Staggering office workers’ schedules or cycling employees in rotating groups can help stop the spread of workplace illnesses. Hiring temporary workers can also help bridge the gap while employees stay home until they’re healthy.
- Consider long-term remote options. Several states began phased reopening procedures, which included bringing many employees back into an office setting. However, while some jobs can’t happen in a remote environment, many employees can remain productive from home. Businesses also need to consider that many employees are afraid of falling ill by returning to the office. Many others have children at home with no childcare options or high-risk family members living with them. For a variety of reasons, many employees may want and need the option to continue working from home.
- Track absences accurately. COVID-19 added a new layer of difficulty when it comes to keeping track of leave requests. With many employees still working either entirely or partially from home, keeping track of who is absent, tardy, or requesting paid leave is more challenging than ever. Investing in an absence management mobile app can give businesses the flexibility they need to keep absenteeism in check during these unusual times.
Actec understands the difficulties businesses are encountering due to COVID-19. Our absence tracking mobile app allows companies to capture all attendance data, receive absence notifications, and identify attendance trends. Contact us to learn how we can help your business manage employee absences through the pandemic and beyond.