Unexpected workplace absences create headaches for managers and affect the company’s bottom line. On average, unscheduled absences cost companies $3,600 per year for each hourly wage worker and $2,660 for each salaried employee. These costs come from paid time off (PTO) pay and a loss of productivity. The Society for Human Resource Management puts the loss at 22.6% to 36.6% of productivity, depending on the type of job.

When workers fail to show up at the last minute without notice (no-call, no-show absences), it’s impossible to plan or arrange replacements, further compounding the losses.

The issue of no-call, no-shows is surprisingly complex. Low morale, poorly defined policies, and a lack of communication options may be as much to blame as irresponsible or unmotivated employees.

Here is a closer look at the process of reducing no-call, no-shows.

Methods for Reducing No-Call, No-Shows

A comprehensive approach to limiting no-call, no-shows involves addressing policy clarity, communications, employee wellness, morale, and other problems at the root of unexcused absences. Here are a dozen ways to accomplish this goal:

1. Put Notification Requirements in Writing

Employees may claim they are unaware of notification requirements for absences. You can eliminate this excuse and provide information for employees by creating clear and simple rules for absence notifications.

Many employees are legitimately unaware of workplace expectations. By spelling out specific steps for absence notifications, you limit potential misunderstandings. Also, employees may be intimidated or worry about discipline for calling in at the last minute. The written policy provides them with a road map to avoid these negative consequences.

There are legal reasons to put your notification policy in writing. Some states have labor laws that require companies to comply with their policies. Terminated employees could potentially sue for unfair dismissal if your company does not abide by these rules.

Your policy should include methods for contacting the company, who to contact, when to contact them, what information to provide, and the progressive consequences for no-call, no-shows.

2. Ensure Consistent Policy Enforcement

Inconsistent policy enforcement can hurt absence notification efforts on several levels. Some employees who do not encounter the consequences for failing to follow absence notification policies may feel the rules don’t apply to them. Others may resent the favoritism shown to certain peers or experience low morale due to the seemingly arbitrary decisions of management.

Automating the process of responding to unexcused off days can help ensure consistent policy enforcement. For example, CMS offers automated warnings, disciplinary document generation, and point tracking as part of our call-off services. These streamline enforcement and provide a data trail that you can use to ensure policies are always enforced fairly.

3. Prioritize Employee Wellness

Employee wellness can indirectly affect no-call, no-show problems. According to the CDC, wellness efforts can positively impact both work attendance and performance. Companies offering wellness support may lower the instances of employees calling in sick, indirectly reducing the no-call, no-shows.

The impact of workplace wellness programs can go beyond limiting sick days. These efforts can extend to the company culture. By creating a positive, employee-focused work environment, the firm can avoid issues related to low morale or workers feeling undervalued and replaceable. These factors can cause as many absences as illness.

4. Offer Multiple Channels of Communication

Employees may have different contact preferences. Some would rather communicate with managers via email, while others choose to call to ensure their message gets received. Also, research has shown that more employees prefer text to email.

You can offer various communication methods to ensure employees can call out using their preferred communication medium. If you rely on a call-out service like CMS, you can offer multiple communication channels. Employees reaching out by call, text, or web app have their communications recorded on the same platform. Each communication gets time-stamped and logged to ensure accurate record-keeping and reporting. Since these processes happen automatically, you reduce the chances of human error, such as someone failing to record an absence or forgetting to log a call.

5. Provide Options for Addressing Scheduling Issues

Employees may feel locked into their schedule and decide their only option is to avoid work entirely. In addition to a call-out policy, you can create a framework for employees to address scheduling concerns.

For example, if the worker has an ongoing scheduling issue, such as being home for children after school, you can allow them to request different hours, complete tasks at home, or work remotely, if possible.

For hourly wage jobs, you might create a system for workers to find another employee to replace them during a shift or create a database of on-call employees looking for additional hours.

As with the overall call-in policy, the rules for finding replacements or requesting alternative scheduling should be well-defined. Employees need to know all options available for dealing with their scheduling issues and have clear steps for pursuing these solutions.

6. Define Progressive Penalties to Discourage Repeated No-Call, No-Shows

Progressive discipline involves increasingly severe punishments for employees who do not correct their behavior. This approach can harm morale and create a culture of fear if used indiscriminately. However, if you focus on allowing employees to take positive steps and correct mistakes, you can use instances of unexcused absences as teachable moments.

For example, a first offense may trigger a verbal warning and a reminder of call-out policies. A second could lead to a written warning or a meeting with a manager to reiterate the policies. At this time, the employee can mention any issues causing their behavior. 

The progressive penalties offer repeated chances to correct the pattern of absences and address any underlying issues. However, the progression could ultimately lead to termination.

As with other policies related to call-outs, the progressive penalties should be written, clear, and fairly applied to all employees. 

7. Take Steps to Boost Morale

You need to discern whether no-call, no-shows are due to the employee’s poor decision-making or if there is an underlying cause in the workplace. Low morale among employees could lead to increased absenteeism. Employees are unmotivated to go to work and may not even care if they get fired for not calling in about their absence.

The average for workplace absences (excused and unexcused) in the US is 3.6%. If your company experiences higher rates, it could indicate underlying problems, such as low morale.

Changing the mindset of disengaged, uninterested workers can prove challenging. Employee-focused leadership styles can provide support and a sense of value that could help improve the overall office environment.

8. Elicit Feedback on Scheduling

Employee feedback can reveal issues with scheduling or call-out policies. It can also drive engagement and make workers feel more valued.

In many environments, workers are wary of providing feedback. You can start with anonymous questionnaires or surveys they complete via the internet. One-on-one meetings also provide a setting for workers to communicate their views on company policies without having to do so in front of a group.

These insights can help you create employee-friendly policies for scheduling and absence notifications. If multiple employees complain about the same issues, you might consider changing your current system or policy to address the problem.

9. Consider Alternative Work Arrangements

Remote and hybrid work was unheard of until a decade ago. The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated made this arrangement commonplace. Even after the lockdowns were lifted, companies and employees embraced these options and viable alternatives to office-based employment.

By 2022, 32% of employees said they preferred fully remote work, while 59% wanted a hybrid schedule with some days at home and some in the office.

In many professions, such arrangements are possible, and they could be a solution for companies struggling with no-call, no-show problems. Remote or hybrid jobs give workers the flexibility to complete tasks on their own time, solving scheduling issues without compromising productivity.

In some industries, such as manufacturing, construction, or service sectors, remote work isn’t possible. However, for companies that can utilize it, remote work could limit or eliminate unexcused absences while giving employees the independence they want.

10. Track Sick Days and PTO

Many Americans do not understand their company’s PTO or sick day policies. A majority of workers actually do not use all their PTO days during the year. Others may not understand their employer’s policy for rolling over unused days or other procedures.

A clear written explanation can help raise awareness for these rules, and you may also remind employees who were absent without notification of the process for using their PTO days.

Other employees may be unaware of how many PTO days they have in the year. They may fear using too many days or limiting their vacation time later in the year by taking a sick day.

You can solve this confusion by having an accessible platform where workers can track their PTO for the year. This resource can also be valuable if your company makes a distinction between sick days and vacation time.

11. Avoid Punishment for Early Offenses

Most experts discredit the use of fear as a motivating factor. Threats of termination or other punishments for a first no-call, no-show offense can lead to resentment and ultimately contribute to a toxic work environment.

Instead of punishment, you can take a more lenient approach that makes allowances for extenuating circumstances, misunderstandings, or confusion about workplace policies.

You can then use the first offense to clarify issues and ask for input from the employee. This approach allows them to make corrections on their own first before being subjected to additional punishment.

With a system for logging absences, you can track employees who have repeated absences without notification. These workers may be eligible for additional punishments. However, you will avoid creating resentment between one-time offenders and management.

12. Reward Attendance and Employees Who Follow Policies

Business experts and HR professionals highlight the benefits of positive reinforcement in the workplace. While praising employees for coming to work and following policies may not solve no-call, no-show problems by itself, it can set a positive tone for the workplace.

The Harvard Business Review points to multiple studies about the effectiveness of anticipating positive rewards instead of fearing negative consequences. People are more likely to complete an action (such as managing PTO, calling in sick, and going to work when healthy) when they anticipate a reward or positive recognition.

These rewards could take different forms. You might recognize employees with perfect work attendance on the company website or offer bonuses, prizes, or additional PTO days to employees who abide by call-in policies and meet schedule obligations. 

How Accessibility, Automation, and Data Can Limit No-Call, No-Shows

HR specialists, business owners, and managers must find and define underlying issues that cause excessive absences without notification. However, it’s essential to create an accessible system to manage the entire call-in process, log data, and transform it into useful insights for each employee.

The first step in establishing this platform is to provide employees with options for contacting their manager when they cannot get to work as scheduled. With a call-off system like the one available through CMS, you can provide workers with internet, phone, and text options for absence notification. The system should be available 24/7 so that employees can send a notification at any time instead of waiting for someone to be in the office to confirm their time-off request.

This type of system not only provides convenience for employees but also puts necessary attendance data at managers’ fingertips. With a dashboard containing employee information, managers can see the attendance record and check past excuses. You can also make select data available to employees so that they can review their attendance and time-off information.

Finally, attendance data on a centralized dashboard can help managers differentiate between employees who are routinely absent or have a pattern of no-call, no-shows and those with infrequent or isolated missed workdays. This information is essential for assessing each employee’s adherence to call-out and PTO policies.

Ready to Improve Your Attendance Processes?

CMS offers 24/7 call-out notification services for employees, software for tracking attendance, automated employee notifications and warnings, and 100% customization. Our solutions are designed to help you streamline and approve your absence management and attendance processes. Contact us today to discover more about how CMS can support your business needs.

By Last Updated: August 18, 2023Categories: Blog10.1 min read