5 Tips to Reduce Employee Turnover and Absenteeism

What causes employee absenteeism and what strategies can you implement to reduce employee turnover and absenteeism?

5 Tips to reduce employee turnover and absenteeism

It’s common for employees to miss a day of work now and again. A child gets sick. An employee attends a funeral. Flu season hits. When absences become excessive, however, then employers need to take action.

Employee turnover is one of the most important HR metrics and excessive absenteeism is a strong predictor of future employee turnover problems. Turnover seemingly increases every year with an 88% increase in employee turnover since 2010.

5 tips to reduce employee turnover and absenteeism:

  1. Create and enforce an attendance policy

  2. Embrace flexible schedules

  3. Enhance employee engagement and communication

  4. Offer training and career development opportunities

  5. Stay competitive on your salary and benefits

What causes employee turnover and absenteeism?

A variety of factors can cause employee turnover and absenteeism.

Common reasons for employee turnover:

  • COVID-related reasons

  • Found a job that paid more money

  • Relocated to another city

  • Treated unfairly

  • Limited growth opportunities

  • Found a job closer to home

  • Burnout and stress (yes, this makes both lists)

  • Little or no recognition of employees

  • Little or no feedback for employees

  • Overworked

Common reasons employees are absent from work:

  • Illness of employee or family member

  • Burnout and stress

  • Childcare issues

  • Car or Home emergency

  • Death of a family member

  • Disengagement

  • Bullying or discrimination

How can you reduce employee turnover and absenteeism?

To reduce employee turnover and absenteeism, you need to understand why employees are leaving or not showing up to work.

Are you getting employee feedback on your work environment? On your culture? Do you create an environment where open communication is welcomed?

Do your employees feel valued? Supported? Do they feel like part of the team? Or do they feel overworked and underpaid?

Are you providing medical and wellness benefits? Do you encourage healthy behavior? Employees receiving enhanced medical care “reported 8.2% greater productivity and 28.4% less absenteeism over 2 years.”

Do they need more time to balance family obligations with work? Perhaps adding in more flexible working arrangements or giving them more say in their shifts would help.

Here are 5 tips to reduce employee turnover and absenteeism:

  1. Create and enforce an attendance policy: In your employee handbook, you should specifically address issues related to attendance so that employees know what to expect. For example, specify the general rules for attendance specific to your company, such as shift work or required weekly hours. List approved absences and if any documentation is required (such as a doctor’s note for illnesses). Finally, be sure to highlight any methods or tools for tracking attendance and absences as well as the consequences for not following these policies.

  2. Embrace flexible schedules: With people working multiple jobs or trying to balance family obligations with work schedules, employers should offer flexibility around locations, off-site schedules, work hours, and shifts, where possible. According to the Harvard Business Review, “[e]mployees without access to flexibility are twice as likely to report being dissatisfied at work, and half of employees say they would leave their company if offered a more flexible alternative.”

  3. Enhance employee engagement and communication: In a recent study covering 2.7 million employees, Gallup found that companies in the top quartile of employee engagement have reduced absenteeism by 81 percent. Further, there was 18 percent less turnover in high-turnover organizations and 43 percent less turnover in low-turnover organizations.

  4. Offer training and career development opportunities: Lack of career development and training opportunities has been the number one reason employees leave for the past ten years. Companies with robust training and career development platforms can reduce employee turnover by 30-50 percent.

  5. Stay competitive on your salary and benefits: Leaving a job for a better opportunity—including higher pay—has historically been at the top of the list of why people quit their jobs. It’s no different today. Companies highly rated in their salary and benefits offerings see a 56 percent lower turnover rate than companies not highly rated.


Jennifer Kiesewetter is a seasoned attorney in the field of employee benefits, encompassing qualified and nonqualified employee benefit plans, welfare benefit plans, and other human resources issues. She is also an Adjunct Professor of Employee Benefits at University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law, where she teaches remotely. Additionally, Ms. Kiesewetter is a frequent writer and speaker on the topic of employee benefits and health care compliance regulatory law, locally, regionally and nationally.

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