The only bigger news this week than the storm of the century here in New England has been the ongoing investigation into Deflategate. In case you’ve been trapped inside an avalanche induced air pocket in recent days, Deflategate is the ongoing debate about whether the footballs the victorious New England Patriots used in the AFC championship game were deliberately deflated outside of NFL regulations. We may never know for sure, but what we do know is that a lot of people will call in sick or arrive late to work on Monday after the big game. And that can deflate workplace productivity faster than Tom Brady can throw a football.
Employee absences cost organizations around the world billions of dollars every year. Those costs are both direct (lost productivity, overtime) and indirect (coworker and manager stress). Employee absence isn’t avoidable, but there are ways to mitigate its impact on your organization. Read on for some ideas about how to manage absence not only on Super Bowl Monday, but throughout the year.
- Have an absence policy and communicate the policy to your employees.
- Encourage proactive communications between managers and staff about requests to take time off, or to work a different schedule. According to 2014 research we conducted with SHRM, unplanned absences are more expensive to manage than those you know are coming and they more negatively impact coworker morale.
- Support flexibility. Consider late starts/late finishes for staff who want to sleep in after a big game. But make sure that you have a system in place to cope with monitoring the flex hours and any resulting overtime for those who are covering.
- Make controlling absenteeism a business priority. There’s no reason not to be in control of absence. Business tools are available to control and monitor absence levels and trends – you can even set the parameters to alert you to all unscheduled absences on match days, or on the morning after a big game.
- Enforce the absence policy. Any absence policy needs to be monitored and enforced consistently and fairly throughout the organization to curb unscheduled absences – more than half of employed adults believe that their work performance is negatively impacted when attendance policies are not fairly enforced. According to US respondents in our survey, unplanned absences add to workload (69 percent), increase stress (61 percent), disrupt work of others (59 percent), and hurt employee morale (48 percent).
- Provide incentives for excellent attendance. In large organizations, time and attendance systems are an invaluable tool for tracking and reporting on attendance levels. Many organizations effectively use perfect attendance bonuses as an incentive to reduce absenteeism.
- Be realistic. Rather than hindering staff enthusiasm over the Super Bowl, go with it – install a TV in the staff room; sit down and enjoy the game with your staff – and with a bit of luck, you’ll improve staff morale for long after the ref blows the final whistle.