Getting a Handle on Employee Absenteeism in Manufacturing
supervisor of warehouse

Getting a Handle on Employee Absenteeism in Manufacturing

Absent employees represent a significant cost to any business, but it poses a particular problem for manufacturers. In factories, employees fill more specialized and skilled positions that play key roles in the manufacturing process. An absent employee may not only impact his or her immediate function but every other function downstream in the process. Some experts estimate employee absenteeism can cost the U.S. manufacturing industry $3 billion every year in lost productivity.

Common Causes of Staff Absenteeism

Many factors can have an impact on employee attendance but some of the more common causes include:
  1. Illnesses or injuries
  2. Stress and depression
  3. Low morale, disengagement or general job burnout
  4. Caring for a sick child or elderly parent
  5. Being harassed or bullied by co-workers or supervisors
  6. Out seeking other employment

5 ways to help reduce employee absenteeism

While there is rarely a single solution to any problem, the following five ideas may help manufacturers curb absenteeism among their employees.

managing warehouse workers

  1. Regularly assess your management style and work environment
  2. As with most employee problems, business leadership should first endeavor to look critically at their own management styles. Managers play a key role in creating your business’s work environment through their style of leadership and communication.

    Autocratic bosses and supervisors will create a more stressful workplace. Leadership styles and traits can quickly take the joy out of working and cause employees to quit, seek reassignment or find ways to get out of coming into work altogether.

    Even seasoned leaders and company owners can be guilty of fostering a stressful business environment that drive employees away rather than inspiring them to do better. Annual reviews should be given serious weight as well as attending leadership seminars and workshops to keep their actions and management styles a top priority.

    sharing absentee policy to workforce

  3. Develop and communicate formal policies around unexcused absences
  4. In addition to critically evaluating their leadership style and practices and the workplace environment they cultivate, your management team should review your company’s policies around absences.

    Are the rules clear and fair? Your company should work to create policies around absenteeism that take into account the fact that everyone experiences unforeseen circumstances from time to time. Rules should allow for a certain amount of uncertainty before penalizing an employee.

    Have your rules been clearly communicated to each employee? Uncertainty or vagueness can breed frustration and even apathy toward company policies and ultimately have a huge negative impact on employee engagement. So, make sure copies of your attendance policy is posted clearly and in multiple places that make sense such as near the entrances, exits and time clocks etc.

    HR and upper management should review the current attendance policy to determine if it needs to be revised, simplified and re-launched to the workforce. Paycor Analytics can assist your team in evaluating labor costs and the effectiveness of your attendance policies.

    employee wellness

  5. More focus on employee needs, wellness and engagement
  6. A penny of prevention is worth a dollar of cure. If employees feel their employer does not care about their wellbeing, they can quickly become disengaged and apathetic. When working to reduce absenteeism, it is vital to review your company’s practices around promoting employee health, career advancement, and overall wellbeing.

    Consider reviewing your current benefits offering to see how they can be improved and expanded. Perhaps there is a health club nearby where you can secure reduced rates or provide reimbursement to encourage exercise and better health practices among your employees. If you have a cafeteria or food services, review the menu to provide better pricing and healthier options to your workers. If your company doesn’t currently offer such a benefit, it may be a worthwhile investment in your employees.

    Additionally, if stress levels are high among workers, you may look for an opportunity to hire or provide a counseling service to help employees deal with stress or even get financial advice.

    Finally, be sure to provide an avenue for employees to express their concerns or frustrations to management through a survey or feedback system. Anonymity should be provided so employees can feel free to say what they need to without fear of repercussions. This type of ongoing feedback system can also be a valuable tool for management when making decisions that impact workers. But it is important to acknowledge feedback and address areas of concern, so employees see that their feedback is being taken seriously.

    Paycor’s Pulse Survey tool gives you accurate and timely data on how your employees are feeling so management can respond more quickly and accurately to their concerns.

    attendance incentives for manufacturing employees

  7. Attendance incentives
  8. The way to better attendance may be through the wallet. Your leadership team may want to brainstorm different ideas around annual bonuses, contests or other financial incentives that promote good employee attendance.

    If your budget does not allow for financial incentives, other options could include awarding additional PTO time based consecutive days without an absence or the opportunity to leave early on the last Friday of the month.

    flexible scheduling for employees

  9. Flexible schedules
  10. A more proactive approach would be offering more flexible scheduling for employees. The U.S. Department of Labor describes a flexible work schedule as an alternative to a traditional 9-to-5 40-hour work week. It allows employees to vary their arrival and/or departure times. Under some policies, employees must work a prescribed number of hours per pay period and be present during a daily core time.

    For example, working four 10-hour days per week can allow employees to schedule special appointments on their normal day off without needing to utilize their PTO or call in sick.

    A 2019 Shiftboard survey revealed that 85% of hourly workers said that having more control over their scheduling impacts their overall job satisfaction. Nearly half even said they would take a pay cut in exchange for more control over their schedules.2

    Paycor Scheduling can provide your employees more control over their schedules. Workers can proactively set their availability which can help them pick up shifts that might otherwise go uncovered.

Absenteeism at work can add significantly to your operational costs. More importantly it can be an indication of deeper, underlying problems within your workforce. Taking a critical look at your company culture and worker satisfaction to reduce employee absenteeism can bear significant fruit for your business in the long term.


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