A Fresh Approach

The Issue

The client, a fresh food processor, was experiencing a level of employee absenteeism that was putting their operation into jeopardy. The employees were unionized with a relatively small number of paid sick leave days, however not only was their long term disability experience significant, their short term disability experience was crippling. Employees were not showing up to work, without notice, and without pay.

The Methodology

Traditional disciplinary approaches to attendance were not working for the client. We determined that we needed to get a better understanding of what was driving the high levels of employee absenteeism. We engaged the employees in several focus group discussions to talk about what they saw as their barriers to attending work, what were the most common reasons for absence and what they perceived to be the impact of their absence from work. The union was also consulted on their issues and concerns on this matter.

The Solution

We pulled together all the information we gathered, from management, the employees and the union. We looked for non-traditional solutions, because the traditional solutions were not working. We focused on communicating the degree of plant wide absenteeism and the impact that individual choices, around attending work, were having on their co-workers. Together with this level of transparency we increased the level of supervisory responsibility for face to face communication on every absence. The result was significantly declining absenteeism numbers and an improved shared sense of accountability for attending work as scheduled.

Service Area: Human Resource Development