How to Deal with Employee AbsencesAre you prepared for 'no shows'?

Employee ‘no shows’ can stem from a multitude of possible reasons. In 2021, the UK absence rate hit a record high of 2.2%—a 0.4% increase from the record low of 1.8% in 2020.

Such unauthorised absences can wreak havoc when adjusting rotas, can have detrimental effects on your end users, and can ultimately damage your business.

Therefore, no matter how big or small your business, it’s important to be prepared for those inevitable employee ‘no shows’.

Here’s everything you need to know when dealing with the ‘no shows’: what to do when they arise and the means to prevent them.

What to do when an employee doesn't show up

Any number of unexpected events can result in an AWOL employee, ranging from sickness to family emergencies, or just that the individual has forgotten their shift (it happens). However, it can also be the sign of a larger problem within the workplace and should therefore be taken seriously by all parties involved.

Make contact immediately

When an employee is scheduled to work for your business, you expect them to show up. And if they can’t show up—for example, if they’re sick—you expect them to let you know.

If an employee has not called to let you know of their absence, it is important to follow up with that employee immediately. However, it’s also important to keep in mind that there could be any number of reasons as to why they’ve missed work, therefore it is vital to stay both professional and rational.

In addition to calling the employee and asking what has happened, ask if they need help with anything, if they will be able to come in later in the week, or if they need any assistance until they can return. Such communication will boost your professional relationship and will potentially aid future absences.

Consequences & documentation

If an employee has not called to let you know they aren’t coming to work, and your attempts to contact them have also been unsuccessful, then it is time to start thinking about the next steps.

Document any employees that have frequent no shows and let them know it will be added to their file. Let them know about any negative consequences for no shows, such as docking pay. In some businesses, a zero-tolerance policy is upheld, where one instance of not showing up for work can lead to immediate termination. Others may implement “3-strike” process, where employees receive a written warning at the first instance

For employees who frequently miss work, it’s crucial to let them know the consequences. This will mean that they are more likely to make contact and let you know if they aren’t going to make it. Acknowledge the good behaviour of communication from employees who do let you know. A clear policy will ensure that employees know the length of appropriate notice for absences.

Arrange cover

Once it has been established that an employee won’t be turning up to work, it is crucial that shift cover is found as soon as possible. To avoid employees and managers scrambling around in a panic, use an efficient group messaging tool.

Staff rota software, such as Findmyshift, allow for group messaging, team notice board conversations, and notifications to keep all employees up to date and help you find cover promptly and effectively.

How to prevent 'no shows'

The Society for Human Resource Management reports that unscheduled absences cause a 36.6% loss in productivity. To avoid such an impact, there are several steps you can take within your business.

A clear policy

An absence policy should make clear exactly what's expected from both the employer and employee if the employee needs to take time off work.

An absence policy should include:

  • How to report absences, including a first point of contact
  • When the employee needs to get a fit note
  • When return to work discussions will be held and with whom
  • How and when to keep in touch
  • How the employer keeps track of absences and if they set any reviews
  • What to do if someone needs time off for reasons related to their disability
  • Whether the employer provides occupational health or an employee assistance programme and when this starts
  • How much the employee will be paid and for how long

Once a clear policy is in place and your employees have signed it, you can then easily hold them accountable for ‘no shows’. It will also be beneficial to outline what a ‘no show’ is, and any consequences that accompany it, within your policy.

Automated shift reminders

Auto shift reminders are a great way to prompt employees to contact you should they be unable to attend work. Reminders can be configured by staff to be sent during specific time windows and up to 30 days in advance. Implementing such software will dramatically decrease the number of missed shifts within your business.

Flexi-scheduling & on-call rotas

Many employee scheduling apps now offer an easy and clear way for people to request time off, and more importantly, give them the power to fill their own shifts. Implementing this into your business will not only empower your employees, but also allow shifts to be easily covered without management needing to get too involved.

You can also devise an on-call rota of employees who have opted in to pick up extra hours and shifts. Such a rota will ease the negative impact of a ‘no show’ whilst also building better relationships with the on-call employees who are willing to go the extra mile.

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