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Tips for Reducing Construction Staff Absenteeism

When employees miss work, companies pay: in the mining and construction industries alone, the annual cost of lost productivity because of absenteeism is $1.3 billion. If you’re doing the math about what portion of that came from your company, it’s time to start reducing your own construction staff absenteeism.

First, you need to understand why it’s happening.

Why Do Your Construction Staff Members Miss Work?

There are many reasons for absenteeism:

  • Disengagement, Disinterest, and Burnout: If your employees aren’t excited about their work, and if they don’t feel appreciated on the job site, they’re more likely to miss work. If they get disengaged enough, they might start missing work in order to interview for another job.
  • Childcare: If a child is sick or has a day off school, the parent may have to stay home to care for him or her.
  • Illness or Injury: Construction workers are especially at risk of injury given the nature of the job. Some of the most common construction site injuries include broken bones, head injuries, burns, cuts, overuse injuries, and heatstroke. In 2013, it was reported that more than 80 percent of construction and mining workers have a chronic health condition or unhealthy weight.
  • Depression: As of 2013, depression was one of the major causes of absenteeism across all industries.

How to Reduce Absenteeism

There’s no one sure-fire way to ensure every employee comes to work every day, but by using a variety of approaches in your strategy, you can decrease the number of days lost to absenteeism.

Show Your Appreciation

If you value your employees, let them know. Know their names and a little about their lives. Tell them, verbally and maybe occasionally in a written note, that they’re doing great work and it doesn’t go unnoticed.

Take Care of Their Health

Construction work is hard on the body, and that toll can show up in missed workdays. Help your employees stay as healthy as possible by offering a solid health insurance plan as well as, perhaps, outside of the box benefits like gym memberships, discounts on massages, chiropractic care, and education on nutrition, sleep, and proper body mechanics. Encourage them to seek help for small injuries or illnesses before they get worse. Sometimes, “toughing it out” for a couple of days can result in a couple of weeks away from the job site.

This also includes going above and beyond when it comes to safety on the job site. Follow all regulations and enforce strict safety policies. Encourage employees to look out for one another.

In addition, manage the scheduling to ensure adequate rest between shifts and that each employee takes his or her allotted vacation days. Encourage a work-life balance that allows for their growth and fulfillment with their families and personal interests.

Offer Skill Development

Training programs not only make your workers more efficient but also boost their confidence and morale. They feel like you’re invested in them, which makes them more likely to enjoy their work and want to do a good job for you.

Offer Incentives

Rewards might include catered lunches, tickets to sporting or arts events, or a financial bonus, and can be given when an employee completes an optional training program or goes a certain number of days without missing work.

Build Unity

Consider this: “…absenteeism is noticeably lower in work units that have a strong team spirit or when the group is cohesive.” Encourage your employees to get to know each other, maybe via a mentoring program, monthly catered lunches, or employee gatherings like holiday parties or happy hours.


Make sure your employees know they have someone to speak with–confidentially–if they have issues with work or are concerned about their mental health. In addition, encourage them to share ideas that could create a better workplace for everyone.

Basically, it all comes down to being a good place to work. Many of the strategies you can employ to reduce absenteeism–like offering training, building unity, and caring for your employees–will make you a stronger company overall.

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