Controlling Absenteeism in the Workplace

Jodee Redmond
Missing Team Member

For business owners and managers, controlling absenteeism in the workplace is an important issue. When workers are not on the job regularly, it affects productivity and the company's profits.

Reasons for Absenteeism

There are a number of reasons why an employee may not report for work when they are scheduled to be present. Some of them are legitimate, such as when the normal workday falls on a public holiday or the employee is on vacation. There are other times when employees do not report to work due to reasons that are not legitimate.

Age May be a Factor

Younger workers may be more likely to take time off from work than older workers. When mature workers do call in sick, they are more likely to be away for a longer time than their more youthful counterparts, though.

Gender Matters

Women who are trying to juggle family responsibilities with a job are also more likely to be absent from work. They may be part of the "Sandwich Generation" who are trying to take care of children and elderly relatives at the same time.

Work Ethic

No matter what an employee's age or gender, if they have a poor work ethic, they are more likely to take time off from work. A person who does have this important character trait appreciates that they are expected to be at work as scheduled and that if they are away, their contribution to the workplace will be missed.

Job-Related Factors

A person who finds their work stressful is more likely to take time off to take a break and regroup. People who work in repetitive jobs are also more likely to call in sick when they are not really ill to get additional time off.

Strategies for Controlling Absenteeism in the Workplace

A manager or company owner must address the amount of time employees are away from work that isn't a public holiday or scheduled as vacation. The first step is to develop a policy for controlling absenteeism in the workplace. While an employer recognizes that there are situations where a worker must take time off from work due to illness or family responsibilities. The policy the company adopts should acknowledge this fact, but also stress that each worker is expected to go to work and perform his or her job-related duties when scheduled.

Managers should be keeping a close eye on employee attendance, and everyone in the workplace should be aware that absences for other than a legitimate reason will are not acceptable. Everyone in the workplace should be subject to the same expectations as far as regular attendance is concerned.

When a worker starts to miss more time from work than usual, the employer should take steps to find out the underlying cause. The employer may be able to make some changes to the employee's working hours or work placement so that they will be able to improve their attendance on the job.

Acknowledging employees who come to work regularly is another strategy that can be successful in improving attendance rates. Some employers will offer incentives to those who come to work regularly. Not only does this strategy reward those with good attendance records, but it will encourage other employees to do the same.


If steps aren't taken for controlling absenteeism in the workplace, the level will increase over time. When businesses don't have employees reporting for work when scheduled, productivity is affected. Ultimately, the business is less profitable, which owners and managers want to avoid.

Controlling Absenteeism in the Workplace