How To Manage Employee Absence In The Construction Industry

Time is money in the construction industry and any setbacks eat into your profit margins. When a job is delayed, it reflects badly on the business and makes it less likely that the customer will use you again in the future. When you price projects, you give a quote based on the amount of time you think the job will take. You can’t charge the customer more money if the delays are down to you, which means that you are essentially being paid less for your time. 

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There are a lot of reasons that a project might run behind, but employee absence can be a factor. If somebody is off sick, everybody else has to pick up the slack and that means that the whole project will be behind schedule. This is especially true for contractors like electricians and plumbers because you need skilled employees to catch up on that work. 

Finding ways to reduce employee absence is vital if you want your construction business to be productive. These are some of the best ways to manage employee absence in the construction industry. 

Stay On Top Of Health And Safety

 If you run a construction business, you already understand the importance of health and safety but people don’t consider the impact it has on employee absence. If people are being injured all the time, you could find yourself in legal trouble for breaking health and safety regulations but you also need to account for the absence if an injured employee is unable to work. In some cases, if the injury is very serious, you could find yourself without a key team member for an extended period of time. That’s why reducing injuries from construction accidents is vital if you want to manage employee absences. Make sure that you are following all of the health and safety regulations to the letter and, where possible, going above and beyond to keep your employees safe. It’s a good idea to have refresher courses in things like manual handling or dealing with hazardous chemicals every now and again because people get into bad habits over time. 

It’s not just accidents you need to consider either, it’s long term damage caused by improper use of tools or poor manual handling. If people are lifting with their back instead of their legs, for example, that will take a toll and eventually, they’ll need time off work because of severe back pain. It’s important to provide the proper training so your employees know how to carry out work safely and avoid any long term damage. 

By reducing the frequency of injuries, you can drastically cut the number of employee absences that you have to deal with. 

Provide Comprehensive Healthcare Benefits 

Healthcare benefits are so important in the construction industry because it’s a very physically demanding job. People that have been working in the industry for a long time are likely to have issues with their joints and muscles and, in many cases, they have lasting damage that makes it difficult for them to work. You can avoid this problem and make sure that your employees are healthy if you make healthcare benefits a priority when you are starting your construction business. If your employees have good coverage, they are more likely to see a doctor when they first notice an issue. By having physiotherapy to deal with joint or muscle problems, for example, they can avoid a more permanent problem in the future, meaning that they don’t need to keep taking time off work. 

Employees will also experience health issues that are not related to the physically demanding nature of their job. By providing good healthcare benefits, you can improve their overall health and reduce the chances of health issues impacting their ability to work. 

Don’t forget about mental health provisions either because mental health issues can also affect people’s ability to work. Construction is a very male-dominated industry and many of the men working in that environment do not feel comfortable discussing emotional issues, which means that they are more likely to develop mental health issues. A healthcare plan that covers mental health treatments too can go a long way towards reducing absence due to problems like depression and anxiety. 

Carry Out Drug Testing 

Regular absences may be caused by health issues, but they could be caused by substance abuse problems too. If somebody is regularly using drugs or drinking heavily, this affects their ability to work and causes them to miss days. The issue is, many people with addiction problems are good at hiding it, so you may not realize what is going on. It’s a good idea to carry out drug testing on employees on a regular basis. This will help you identify any employees that have a substance abuse issue and it also acts as a good deterrent. 

If people are under the influence of drugs and alcohol while they are at work, that is a serious health and safety issue, especially if they are using power tools or operating heavy machinery. Regular drug testing will ensure that everybody is safe and help to reduce employee absence. 

Follow Up After Absences 

When an employee is absent, you should always have a follow up with them afterward to discuss the reasons. It might just be that they were sick and no action needs to be taken. However, if they have an injury or a long term health condition, you need to discuss the various ways that you might be able to help them and accommodate their issues. 

In some cases, they may be suffering from mental health issues, so you should work with them to find ways to manage their stress and make things easier for them. 

Although you will need to discipline employees for unauthorized absences in some cases, that shouldn’t be the main aim of these follow up sessions. Instead, you should speak to the employee about the reasons for their absence and look for ways that you can help them, so you can avoid more absences in the future. 

Employee absence is one of the biggest challenges that construction businesses face, but these strategies can help to manage it. 

Lisa
Lisa Besserman, Founder and CEO of Startup Buenos Aires, has been named as Business Insider’s “Top 100 Most Influential Women in Tech”, and the 2014 “Business Innovator of Latin America” by the Council of the Americas.
Lisa moved to Buenos Aires from New York City to create Startup Buenos Aires, the organization that represents the startup, tech and entrepreneurial community of Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Startup Buenos Aires has been one of the main catalysts for strengthening the tech ecosystem in Latin America, by bringing global startup initiatives, development projects and investment opportunities to the region.
Under Lisa’s leadership Startup Buenos Aires has been credited as “Top 3 Growing Startup Cities” by CNBC and “5 Emerging Global Tech Hubs” by Entrepreneur Magazine.

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