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Question: "How does one control absence?"
HR Tip: This is too big an issue to be covered satisfactorily in a short answer, but essentially you need to make people want to come to work but penalise them if they fail to attend without good reason. The essence of making them want to attend is to give them a clear sense of purpose, an accurate explanation of their personal importance in the running of the organisation, and regular communication about the direction and performance of the business.
Management needs to be clear, supportive and fair. If they are absent, hold a return-to-work interview to determine the reason, offer sympathy if appropriate, see if anything can be done to prevent a recurrence and, if necessary, use your disciplinary procedure to discourage unnecessary absence. This is a hugely important issue and you need to get your whole management team together to tackle it.