4 Tips for Handling Sickness and Absence at Work

by Katie Sawyer, 3 minutes read
HOME blog tips for handling sickness and absence at work

You just got into work and already have three texts from an employee saying they can’t make it into work today.

You’re going to need that extra cup of coffee this morning.

Thankfully, last-minute no-shows doesn’t have to be such a headache. Check out these tips for handling sickness and absence at work — and make your day a little less stressful in the process.

1. Enforce your no-show policy

First things first. You need a policy.

Use your employee handbook as the source of truth for your policy. Your no-show policy should include things like if documentation is required, how to request time off, and what happens when someone doesn’t show up for a shift.

Once you have your policy, you need to enforce it. Here are a few best practices for enforcing your policy.

  • Share your policy with new employees. During your employee orientation, make sure each new staff member is given clear guidance on the no-show policy. Allow time for questions and be as clear as possible.
  • Keep your team updated. Even if your policy hasn’t changed, it’s important to remind your team about the policy. In your workforce management app, send a message to your staff about the policy. You can make sure these important messages are read by requesting confirmation through the app.
  • Chat face to face. If you’ve noticed someone calling in more than normal or just not showing up, meet with them face to face. Sure, maybe they’re just flaking on their job and you need to re-evaluate their employment. But maybe there is something personal going on and you can work together to adjust their schedule and avoid those last-minute changes.

2. Keep accurate records

From staying on the right side of compliance to making payroll easier, accurate records are key to handling work absence. Records help you make strategic decisions. Is someone missing work often? Only on certain days? When they work with certain coworkers? Use your records to identify trends and reduce future no-shows.

  • Ditch messy timesheets. Use a workforce management app that creates an accurate digital timesheet and denotes sick time.
  • Review and assess. Once you have your records in place, set time aside to review them and look for trends. Whether you look at absence each other week or every other month, put it on your calendar and make it part of your routine.
  • Train your managers. You and your managers are on the line to enforcing your no-show policy described above. Train your managers on how to use your absentee records.

3. Schedule according to preference

As a manager, you have a lot to think about when you’re making a schedule. Who’s on vacation, when do most of our sales come in, who has the skills to do what. And when someone calls in at the last minute, your entire strategy can be compromised.

But it doesn’t have to be.

Talk to your employees and ask if they have preferences and restrictions for working hours. Maybe someone can only work the evening shift or prefers opening. You can’t always accommodate everyone. However, when you know of the ongoing restrictions in people’s schedules outside of work, you can be better prepared to avoid absences.

4. Enable shift swaps

When you’re getting messages from your team asking for the day off — they’re sick, their car broke down, they overslept — you wish there was a way to easily find a replacement.

When employees can’t make their assigned shift, allow them to swap or offer it to someone who can. That can reduce the frustration you have when you’re trying to find a replacement, and give other staff the opportunity they’re looking for to pick up extra cash.

  • Set it up. Use a workforce management app that has a built-in shift swap feature.
  • Enforce your policy (again). Remember that policy you created? Make sure your team knows the policy and when — and how often — they can swap shifts.
  • Approve. Set up safeguards so you approve any potential swaps. Look for things like potential overtime and the right skills for the shift.

Take action

Whether your staff really has the flu or they’re taking a day to sleep off a late night out, it’s inevitable that someone is going to call in sometimes. And while filling shifts can be a pain, it doesn’t have to be.

How you handle sickness and absence at work can be all the difference between an engaged boss that your team respects — and one that drives higher turnover.

Make planning schedules and addressing last-minute changes easier. Try a free trial of Deputy to see how you can be a (better) boss.