Guide | Improving attendance in Manufacturing

Unauthorised absences can hit manufacturing businesses hard.

Although there is no magic wand to make all these absences disappear, there are ways to reduce absences and its impact on your business.

Here are five key ways to improve attendance at your business:

  1. Incentives

You can consider incentives to reward high attendance. Employees may be able to leave early on the last Friday of the month if they haven’t taken any authorised time off or attendance could be part of performance targets needed to achieve bonus or commission schemes. When doing such schemes, it is beneficial to remind employees of the importance of team performance, how they (and their attendance) contribute towards meeting goals and how absence can put a real strain on others.

Employers need to consider the reason for non-attendance to ensure that they are not discriminating against disabled employees or those who are pregnant.

If you do have shift patterns or are based in a remote location, you can consider car share schemes to try and prevent employees missing work for this reason. So if an employee gives a colleague or multiple colleagues a lift to and from work X times a month, they can claim an allowance.

You could also consider staff discounts, for example in food or clothes manufacturing businesses. 

  1. Flexible working

When employees are struggling to juggle their work and home commitments, this can negatively affect their attendance. You could consider what flexible working arrangements would help them to cut down their authorised absences and works for your manufacturing business. Home working may not be suitable for many manufacturing roles, but job sharing may be a good option. 

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  1. Return to work interviews

Nobody likes to be questioned, especially employees. After each and every absence, managers should be carrying out return to work, making sure that they are fit to work, probing into the reasons why they were absent and if any issues are raised, explore possible solutions. 

By talking to the employee, you may be able to identify some red flags (i.e. a work-related illness or a health condition which could constitute a disability under the Equality Act) which can help you decide what the next steps should be. If they are disabled, employed are legally required to make reasonable adjustments.

Return to work interviews also send a clear message to malingerers. Absences will be monitored and recorded and they will be questioned once they return.  If they don’t have good reasons for their unauthorised absences, they should face the consequences!

  1. Wellbeing strategy

One of the drivers behind businesses implementing a wellbeing strategy is to reduce short-term and long-term sickness absences. More focus is being placed on not just physical activity, but also mental health.

There is a wide range of options you could consider for your manufacturing business, such as providing discounted gym memberships, encouraging employees to go for health screenings, running awareness workshops or talks  (i.e. nutrition, stress management, smoking cessation, etc) and making counselling and mental health support services available to employees.  

 If you have on-site food facilities, you can ensure that there are plenty of fruit, vegetable and healthy meal options.

  1. Engagement

Ensuring employee’s minds remain on the job is a huge challenge, but tackling low employee engagement levels can help keep spurious short-term absences down.

Employee engagement surveys are a great tool to assess what is working well and what needs some work. It gives you the opportunity to find out how satisfied employees are in their job role and working for you, how they feel about your business values, work practices and procedures, work environment, workplace culture and leadership. If there are problems, you can fix engagement issues to curb any absences.

Dealing with absences can be extremely testing, so seek legal advice to ensure that you are acting in compliance with the law and following best practice.