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Winter is coming

3 proven strategies to reduce absenteeism and optimize your labor

For most companies, the best thing about the end of summer is the decrease in absenteeism. No more employees taking extended vacations, calling out for impromptu days at the beach or afternoon BBQs with friends and family. 

The worst part about waiting for summer to end? It only means you're closer to the winter holiday season when absenteeism rears its head again. Of course, this is a simplified view of employee absence. In cases of extreme absenteeism, employees either missing work, coming in late or leaving early can be a year-round issue that disrupts business success. 

So what can companies do to reduce absenteeism in the workplace? Read on to get strategies you can implement now but first, let’s start with why it’s a problem.

Why do employees miss work?

Most organizations view absence from work as a normal part of doing business.

Sure, standard reasons like illness, parental leave, and vacation are not entirely within a company's control. Yet, other circumstances like stress and burnout, low morale, and inflexible work schedules are challenges that can be tackled head-on. 

So when it comes to hiring frontline workers, companies should take a proactive approach to absenteeism instead of passively accepting it as the norm. They can start by investigating the root of the problem and then build a strategy designed to solve it. 

For extra motivation, let’s break down the real cost of absenteeism. It turns out, it’s pretty high! According to Circadian research, in the US, one in ten hourly workers are absent when they should be at work at any given time, and at a cost of $3,600 per employee a year. Beyond that, an increase in overtime hours or temp workers to fill the scheduling gaps causes payroll to be up to 50% higher!

But that's not all. Filling in for absenteeism is not only costly, but it's also time-consuming when it comes to training temporary or new staff members. Often resulting in a negative impact on customer service, productivity, and team morale.

Here are 3 strategies you can implement now to reduce absenteeism (and as a bonus, increase retention) 

1. Flexibility reigns supreme 

We can’t express this enough—just check out the stats in our retention infographic as proof—giving your employees flexible work schedules is the first major step to overcoming absenteeism. Especially when we know that 1 in 4 employees value flexible schedules over higher pay.

If you aren't convinced that scheduling flexibility plays a part in absenteeism, consider this:  a study by Boston Consulting Group found that nearly half (48%) of Gen Z are at risk of leaving their jobs in the next six months. Among those who said they might leave their jobs, 50% cited a lack of flexibility or work-life balance as the reason.

Still not convinced ?!? A report published in the Harvard business review found that stable but flexible schedules resulted in a 5% increase in productivity, a 7% increase in revenue, and a 20% increase in retention. 

When workers have a say over their schedules, it allows them to manage their personal lives in ways that don’t affect their work or disrupt daily operations. This applies to the more standard reasons for absence (childcare and illness) but also for those moments when someone needs to call out for a mental health day or even for physical rest—especially since most frontline workers are on their feet all day.


2. Use tech to support human-centric processes and strategy

When you’re dealing with a lot of frontline employees, you need the right technology to help foster better communication and simplify lengthy processes that cause confusion, frustration, and ultimately discourage people from coming to work. But it’s not enough to just have good tech, you need systems in place that ensure your employees’ value is reflected in every process.

In the case of workforce management, that means a platform that makes it easier to schedule employees while taking into account their skills and scheduling preferences as well as your business demand. Doubly, a consolidated solution that includes frontline communication and engagement reduces the need to jump from one solution to another, taking time away from getting the job done.

As the labor shortage continues, many businesses must rely on their frontline employees to cover multiple sites. As they are no longer tied to a single place of work, their center of gravity must evolve. Agile and modern organizations are adopting a new center of gravity for their hourly employees: all-in-one frontline dedicated apps like Quinyx where they can communicate with their colleagues, view their schedules and tasks, read company news, receive digital training, and request time off.

3. Focus on employee engagement 

Disengagement in workers may derive from a number of causes, but one key reason is a lack of career progression. From our survey, we found that a whopping 68% of workers don’t receive any set goals or steps to get a promotion, and out of 74% of hourly workers actively thinking about quitting their job, 23% stated career progression as the reason why. If people have nothing to work towards, then it’s difficult to remain engaged in the work that needs to be done. 

Companies need to focus on making sure that employees have the opportunity to grow their skills and rise in the ranks if they choose. Otherwise, this issue will further contribute not only toward high turnover but also to more employees calling out sick as they interview for their next role before leaving you.


Beating absenteeism and retention go hand in hand.
Download our infographic for more strategies on how to fight the funk. 👇


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