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    Workstream | 5 min read

    How to Handle a No-Show Hourly Worker

    There are few things as disruptive to a team and work environment than when an hourly worker doesn't show up for his or her scheduled shift. The reasons for these "no-shows" can span from something as seemingly harmless as forgetting a scheduled shift to the more serious, such as a family emergency or serious illness. Whether accidental and absent-minded or serious and complicated, a no-show can negative affect your team's morale and ability to accomplish its responsibilities and tasks for the day.

    However, there are steps you can take to mitigate the effect of a no-show hourly worker on your team and even decrease the likelihood of it happening again with four steps that emphasize strategic thinking, communication, and education.

    1. Re-allocate limited resources

    When you first realize that an hourly worker hasn't shown up for his or her scheduled shift, it's likely you'll want to launch into crisis mode -- but you shouldn't panic. Yes, it's true that being down a scheduled employee will likely cause some strain on your resources, namely, your other scheduled workers. However, for the sake of your team, you need to remain calm and focus on how you can get your team through the day as smoothly as possible. 

    First, assess the situation. Think about the responsibilities of the no-show worker and consider how those responsibilities could be distributed among those present. Make sure that you allocate those tasks in a way that's as fair and efficient as possible. Second, speak with your workers about the situation. Discuss what needs to be done, but more importantly, assure them that they have your full support throughout the day. If there's something you can do as the boss or manager to help pick up the slack and alleviate some of the stress, you should do pitch in. Show your workers that you recognize the inconvenience caused by one fewer co-worker to re-instill confidence in your team and ensure they don't feel like they are being penalized for the no-show. 


    Contact and follow-up with your no-show worker

    After coming up with a game plan for how to make it through the day with one fewer employee, next, you need to contact the no-show worker.You should not wait until the worker's next scheduled shift, or wait a designated number of days to address the situation. It's important that you get in touch with your worker because, as previously mentioned, there are a variety of reasons as to why the worker could be absent, which could potentially be resolved quickly and can inevitably affect how to handle the conversation and situation in general. 

    To prepare for the call, revisit your employee handbook or workplace policies to ensure you're clear on the established rules and protocol for a no-show situation. Then, call your worker and begin the conversation by stating that he or she was scheduled to work that day at that particular time. Depending on their answer - especially if the reason they no-showed was due to a mistake or misunderstanding - you can ask if they are able to make their shift. If they're not available, inform them that you will need to discuss this in-person, and then schedule a time to speak. 

    If the worker is able to make the shift, you might consider having the conversation with him or her after their shift wraps up, or at another time, as it's still important to address what caused the potential no-show. If the worker is unable to make the shift, you'll want to plan ahead for that conversation.

    Determine consequences and enforce the policy

    Regardless of the reason for the worker's no-show (or even if they show up late), you will need to determine the consequence. It's best first to refer to what the employee handbook and workplace policies state before making a decision based on what (if anything) the no-show worker offers as an explanation. 

    Depending on your seniority, you may have the discretion to decide what to do about the no-show. Of course, you'll need to consult and be consistent with existing policy, and how you've handled other no-shows in the past, but it's still important to consider the individual circumstances when determining the consequence. In the case of less serious reasons as to the no-show - forgot about the scheduled shift, slept through an alarm clock, didn't find someone to cover their shift - you'll want to follow the policy protocol. Possible consequences might include termination (depending on whether this is a repeat offender or other circumstances) or even a probation period for the worker. In the case of more serious reasons - a family emergency, a serious illness or injury - you'll again want to consult the policy and help the worker find a solution so that they can maintain their job. 

    In all scenarios, it's important not to just focus on what the punishment is for their action. Make sure that the worker is aware of the current policy, and how to notify management if they are unable to make their shift. Additionally, communicate to the employee how their absence impacts the team - even if they are less sympathetic to how the absence might affect management, it's likely that they will feel some guilt towards letting down their fellow team members. 

    Evaluate the systems in place to prevent future no-shows

    After making it through the day - and the conversation - with the no-show,revisit your employee handbook and workplace policiesregarding scheduling and no-shows, and more importantly, how those policies are communicated to work. There are several things to consider when assessing these policies, including the reasons - and most common reasons -why workers don't show up to work, and whether there have been other workers who have had issues showing up to work or getting coverage for a shift in the past. 

    If you find that the same reasons for no-shows continually pop-up, then you'll want to address that with your workers, through your policies, and through the systems you have in place for scheduling. For example, if employees cite difficulty in switching or getting coverage for a shift, or even if they need more advance notice about their schedules, think about how you, as the employer, can make that process easier and more effective. Look for gaps in the systems you have in place for creating and distributing schedules, how workers call in, and how workers can change or switch shifts, so that you can eliminate no-shows for administrative reasons. 

    Additionally, as you evaluate the policies, make sure that you communicate them clearly and that your workers understand them. If you don't have an employee handbook, it's crucial that you create one -- and distribute it. Employee handbooks should be easily accessible to all workers, and they should know where to find it. You might even consider having a physical copy available at work or having some of the most important rules highlighted and posted somewhere in the workers' break room. Having these things on display and available ensures that employees know how to call out in advance, how to switch a shift, and the consequences for failure to follow protocol. 

    Aside from making sure that all workers have access to a handbook, consider having a team meeting or retraining current staff so that they are well-informed on all of the policies. With every new hire, there should be an onboarding process that walks them through the policies. Effectively communicating policies with your team and educating them on what to do if they can't show up to a shift will help eliminate future no-shows. 

    Ultimately, when an hourly worker doesn't show up for his or her shift, the whole team is impacted. That day will prove to be difficult, but the days that follow don't have to be. It's absolutely crucial that your workplace has policies in place - and effectively communicates them - to help prevent future no-shows. As you consider the reasons why workers are unable to show up for work, use that intel to adjust policies or address staffing issues, and you'll be able to maintain a happier and more productive work environment for all.

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