It all starts with a vision

It is Management’s job to develop and bring forth a clear vision. This vision must be an unambiguous statement to all employees. It must describe why the organisation thinks it is important to focus on the attendance and health of all its employees? Only then can Management actively involve and engage everyone in working toward maximum staffing levels.

Responsibilities and procedures

It is up to employees and their managers to translate this vision into behaviours and concrete choices in the workplace. To have this process run smoothly, Management must describe the vision as concretely as possible as a set of responsibilities and procedures.

The responsibilities summarise what is expected of the different positions or job titles in terms of health, attendance, and absenteeism. For example, you can expect employees to make every reasonable effort to be in attendance as much as possible. Managers, in turn, can be expected to pick up negative signals from their team members in a timely manner. This way, they can start a dialogue before an employee drops out (for the long-term).

Procedures specify who does what at which point in the process. The more clearly you describe them, the better your absenteeism policy will work in practice.

Base of support throughout the organisation

Have all the responsibilities and procedures been clearly defined? Then comes the most challenging phase: ensuring that the absenteeism policy does not simply sit on a desk in the HR Department. Every layer of the organisation must do its part. HR’s role here is mainly supportive.

Start at the top. Managers must be role models for their employees, and they themselves must firmly believe in the absenteeism policy. That means that it is essential to show Management that addressing absenteeism offers so many more benefits than simply maximum attendance. In fact, those who work to combat absenteeism and to invest in well-being in the workplace are also working to improve productivity and team spirit. If those aspects of the workplace are right, then other things in the work environment automatically run much more smoothly: efficiency, results, job satisfaction etc. What's more, you can also present yourself as an attractive employer – which is indispensable in the current war for talent.

Once Management sees what's in it for them, it becomes much easier for them to see absenteeism policy as part of the corporate DNA – “the right path”, something they will always support. And then, of course, the employees will naturally follow.

And after that?

An absenteeism policy is never finished. It requires regular critical review and adjustment. This is the only way to tackle absenteeism successfully in the long term. Read about how to keep building your absenteeism policy in concrete terms here.