5 Tips to Reduce Employee Turnover and Absenteeism

Employee turnover and absenteeism rates are two of the most important HR metrics.

| Updated: Jan 07, 2022


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 - everything from personal reasons to company reasons.

Common reasons for employee turnover:

  • Health concerns

  • Found a job that paid more money

  • Moved to another city

  • Treated unfairly

  • Limited growth opportunities

  • Found a job closer to home

  • Burnout and stress

  • 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 have a better picture of what contributes to your organization's turnover and absenteeism problem.

There is no easier way to get a better picture than to talk with your employees and find out what you can do to create an environment where people don't want to call out from.

Talk to your team - Question your existing employee culture:

  • Do your employees feel valued and supported?
  • Do they feel like their needs are being met?
  • Do your team members have good relationships with their supervisors?
  • Do they have adequate advancement opportunities?

How to reduce employee absenteeism and turnover in the workplace

  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: Spend time connecting and communicating with your team. 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. Employees receiving enhanced medical care “reported 8.2% greater productivity and 28.4% less absenteeism over 2 years.” 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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