Is your organization struggling with employee absenteeism? Here’s how you can cut down on worker absenteeism and improve the efficiency of your business operation by using an employee call-out line.
Employee Absenteeism: Is It a Problem in Your Business?
If you own or manage a business anywhere in the US, chances are employee absenteeism is a problem for you. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the absence rate across all industries is 3.2 percent on any given day. Some occupations — such as those in healthcare, retail, transportation, and food preparation — have even higher absenteeism rates. These are unplanned, unscheduled days when workers don’t show up for work due to illness, family emergencies, burnout, or other reasons.
Employee absenteeism is more than just a headache for supervisors. It is associated with a significant economic cost to employers. In one healthcare system, for example, employee absenteeism accounted for a $1.3 million loss, representing more than $670 per patient in lost care and services.
Some common problems associated with worker absenteeism include:
- Short staffing and inability to serve customers
- Rescheduled meetings and other internal events
- Gaps in training
- Decreased overall productivity and goal achievement
- Reduced morale, as other workers pick up the slack, potentially causing more absenteeism in a domino effect
While unplanned absences are sometimes unavoidable, frequent or excessive absenteeism can lead to short staffing, reduced morale, and decreased overall productivity. By tackling this issue proactively, businesses can help ensure their employees are motivated, engaged, and productive while minimizing absenteeism’s financial impact on their bottom line.
How to Calculate Your Absenteeism Rate
It’s important to be able to quantify your business’s rate of employee absenteeism. Why? Because if you’re here looking for solutions to employee absenteeism, you want to be able to compare before and after you apply changes to the workplace system. For example, if you implement a new employee call-out line, which we discuss below, you can use hard numbers to justify its use if your absenteeism rate drops.
The absenteeism rate formula is this:
Absenteeism Rate = (Average # of Employees × Missed Workdays) / (Average # of Employees ×Total Workdays)
When calculating your average number of employees, consider new hires and people who left during the time in question, which could be a week, a month, a quarter, or a year. Use fractions to address workers who only work part days, such as someone who has an eight-hour shift but comes to work four hours late.
How to Reduce Absenteeism in the Workplace
Undoubtedly, employees may have valid reasons for being absent from work, such as health issues, family matters, and other personal emergencies. These factors existed before the pandemic, and they continue to be prevalent today. However, there are always absences that have no appropriate rationale other than the employee didn’t feel like going to work. This behavior can be challenging for employers who must maintain productivity and ensure work is completed on time.
Reducing workplace absenteeism requires a comprehensive approach that considers why employees might be absent, including both legitimate and non-legitimate ones. While some absences are unavoidable, businesses can still work to address other underlying causes of absenteeism. Let’s look at three common reasons why worker absenteeism is a problem for many US companies.
COVID-19 undoubtedly put a spotlight on workplace safety. If employees don’t feel secure in the workplace, they may be absent in response. Be sure to address these safety concerns when trying to improve your absenteeism rate:
- Typical OSHA concerns, like working around hazardous substances, break times, and physical workplace dangers
- COVID-19 safety issues, such as ventilation, distancing, masking, and isolation policies for people testing positive
- Security problems relating to violence, like dark parking areas and angry customers
- Other safety concerns, such as discrimination or harassment
One reason the pandemic was so illuminatory was it made workers question their value to employers. Are they earning enough to get by and justify leaving home? Have raises kept apace of the increased cost of living? Can employees afford the gas it costs to drive to work?
Are employees being asked to come to work sick or to endure contagious coworkers? (This overlaps with some of the workplace conditions problems listed above.) It may seem like it’s necessary economically to require minimum isolation for ill employees and to limit COVID-19 sick days. However, if a contagious employee infects their entire department, the financial fallout may be far worse in the long run. Do employees feel they can’t afford to miss work once their paid time off has been used? Do they have adequate paid time off?
Poor call-out protocols
Poor call-off procedures — or not having any at all — can make it easy for some workers to abuse absenteeism.
Do sick employees call their manager? A receptionist? The HR department? What if that person isn’t available to answer the phone? Do they leave a voicemail? If workers ask, “Who do you call to call out of work?” or many say they don’t know how to call in sick to work, the problem may be with your company, not your workforce. An employee call-out line can solve multiple problems concerning worker absenteeism.
The Benefits of an Employee Call-Out Line
A clear protocol
An employee call-off hotline is a number or system everyone uses when they are out sick. It allows them to reach a recording or live person to whom they can report their absence.
A call-out line for absent workers eliminates confusion surrounding who to call. You can include the phone number in employee manuals and emergency contact lists, as well as post it in prominent places.
Attendance policy enforcement & automation
Employee Call-Off Solutions from CMS include policy enforcement functionality and automation that can help curb absenteeism and reduce administrative workload. By providing employees with information on their current attendance records and the consequences of additional absences, the system helps enforce attendance policies and encourages employees to show up to work. The IVR can inform employees how many points they have accumulated and remind them that an additional absence would result in disciplinary action. This function helps hold employees accountable for their attendance and can help reduce absenteeism, leading to increased productivity and better overall performance.
Better workplace efficiency
When you know an employee will be out, you won’t sit there waiting to see if their bus or babysitter was late; you can immediately make plans to cover their shift or reschedule activities. This helps avoid downtime and mitigate the cost of absences.
No playing favorites or missed sick logs
An employee call-out line also prevents favoritism. There won’t be any managers letting some people off the hook while giving others a hard time about being out sick. Also, all sick days will get recorded, whether they are paid time off or the worker is having their paycheck docked for the missed time. You won’t have to deal with biased staff who “forget” to log some employees’ sick days or those who are too overwhelmed and forget.
Employee Call-Off Solutions from CMS
CMS is a leading provider of employee call-off solutions, with numerous reporting channels available, including:
- Live operator and IVR (automated) phone systems
- Mobile app (coming soon)
While you could implement this in-house, most companies hire a professional telephone answering service, like CMS, to take on this task. If you’re already swamped with absentee problems and trying to cover replacements for staff who are out, the last thing you need is to add to your administrative burden. And when a third party handles your call-off reporting, you eliminate the potential for mistakes while reducing the time spent managing absences.
With CMS, you get more than just a 9-to-5 number that employees can call when they’re going to be out. We provide 24/7 service, accommodating late and overnight shifts, such as with healthcare facilities, manufacturing, and emergency services. This is also helpful if an employee knows the night before that they will be absent the following day.
Our services are completely customizable, whether you want a live operator or an automated line. You tell us what department processes or policies you want to use, and we’ll weave them into your employee call-out hotline. We offer HRIS software integration, and you can access all call recordings. CMS provides email, text, and web notifications of employee attendance events so that you can keep up with sick calls in real time. An online dashboard with tiered access gives you another source of information.
Furthermore, CMS gives you historic call reports and metrics, which makes it easy to crunch the numbers on absenteeism. With point tracking, automated warnings, and 100 percent of our operators located in the United States, CMS helps you improve office efficiency and reduce employee absenteeism.
Improve Your Call-Off Process and Reduce Absenteeism
Ready to reduce absenteeism and increase productivity in your business? Implement an employee call-off hotline system from CMS today and streamline the call-out process, enforce attendance policies, and reduce the impact of unplanned absences on your operations. Contact us now to learn more and get pricing!