The COVID pandemic has forever changed how we work — and for the best.
While some companies struggled with employee scheduling during lockdowns, many relied on software systems offering automated employee attendance data to note absence trends.
In this article, we’ll explore the employee attendance trends of 2022, such as the reliance on timesheet software and the popularity of remote work, to make calculated predictions about what you can expect in 2023.
We’ll also provide ten easy ways to improve employee engagement, attendance, and productivity at your workplace.
10 employee attendance trends to track in 2023
With remote work becoming the norm, employee time tracking software, and growing awareness of the importance of mental health, there’s a lot of change expected in the workplace in 2023.
We’ve listed the top 10 employee attendance trends and how they might improve your organization’s engagement.
1. Increased focus on employee engagement
The pandemic made everyone reevaluate their priorities, whether an employer or an employee.
Employees focused on overall job satisfaction and gaining meaning from work.
Unfortunately, a lack of these and the fear of COVID infection led to the Great Resignation.
Business owners also learned that employee retention is no longer just about pay and benefits.
As a result, many companies decided to focus on employee engagement by:
- Introducing wellness programs.
- Offering flexible work options for the long term.
- Adding gamification elements in performance management.
- Committing towards diversity and inclusion.
Engaged employees spend their work time more productively and take fewer leaves. This boosts the entire organization’s productivity, leading to increased profits.
We expect this trend to continue with particular attention towards improving the work environment and creating a fulfilling employee experience.
2. AI to transform day-to-day employee experience
Technology trends such as AI (Artificial Intelligence) and the use of biometrics will play a massive role in the automation and improvement of employee experience.
AI helps automate routine, time-consuming tasks like data entry, freeing employee time to be better utilized. A 2021 study by SnapLogic found that 61% of employees utilizing AI tools tend to have a more productive workday.
As employees are free of repetitive and tedious tasks, their work satisfaction will naturally increase.
As a business owner, you’ll notice your employees are happier and more eager to work. And when employees feel fulfilled, it has a direct positive impact on their health, reducing unscheduled sick leaves and unexcused absences.
3. Employee mental health to become top priority
According to a 2022 Gallup survey, 70% of employees experiencing symptoms of burnout attribute it to toxic workplace behavior like unfair treatment, a cutthroat environment, etc.
When employees feel burned out, it can drastically increase the employee absenteeism rate while negatively impacting employee productivity and morale.
As a result, we expect companies to take the following action to avoid this situation:
- Offer mental health services as part of your regular healthcare insurance.
- Provide ample paid time off (PTO).
- Allow employees to take a period of an excused absence, no questions asked.
- Encourage employees to take sick leave if they feel even slightly unwell.
- Let employees work from home.
- Introduce flexible work timings.
You can combat unscheduled absences by prioritizing employee mental health, as employees feel seen and heard. Additionally, we believe mental health offerings will become an expectation rather than a perk for recruitment.
4. Hyper-personalization of employee systems
Just as AI tools can personalize the customer experience, you can use them to offer a better employee experience.
According to the Digital Employee Experience Report, fewer than 13% of businesses offer personalized employee experience.
And it’s no secret that employee experience directly affects employee engagement and absenteeism.
Employee engagement drives profitability up by 22%.
But how do you boost employee engagement?
Using workforce management software with AI capabilities, you can keep an eye on employee performance and streamline workflows wherever possible. This proactive intervention will help catch excessive employee absenteeism (using data from an automated timesheet) and avoid the need for disciplinary action.
These tools can also look at other attendance reports and trends, such as which employees often sign up for overtime or if a shift worker swaps a particular shift regularly. Then, the software can optimize employee scheduling using this data.
The attendance software can also detect if employees are often late.
For instance, if an employee is late for a night shift, it may happen because of high traffic. The software can alert managers to adjust staffing levels accordingly to combat tardiness.
Moreover, many software systems now employ Natural Language Processing (NLP) to gain insight into employee sentiment. They can detect if an employee is dissatisfied with their work or exhausted, allowing you to address the issue head-on.
5. Hybrid and remote work is here to stay
With more employees realizing the many benefits of remote work, its demand has increased.
A 2022 report from the National Bureau of Economic Research found that employees prefer remote work and are willing to take a pay cut. This means that if an employee opts for remote work and a lower salary, the labor cost of that employee decreases.
And since the pandemic showed that employee productivity increased for 52% of all those surveyed while working from home, more business owners are open to remote work.
In a 2022 FlexJobs survey, a whopping 77% of employees selected remote work as their second most important benefit.
At the same time, some employees want to return to the office, but not for a full workweek. That’s why employees are also open to the idea of a hybrid work arrangement.
According to a 2021 survey conducted by McKinsey, 58% of employees reported that their productivity increased due to hybrid work.
On top of that, employee engagement increased by 45%, and 36% reported higher customer satisfaction.
The hybrid work model has welcomed broader flexibility for employees. And these labor statistics illustrate just how beneficial the hybrid work model can be for organizations.
There has been a rise in hybrid work options where employees come into the office a few times a week. This places importance on productivity rather than strict employee attendance.
As these flexible work facilities allow employees to maintain a good work-life balance, save company overhead costs, and alleviate attendance issues, we expect this trend to continue well beyond 2023.
6. A reframing of employee health
Due to the pandemic, we expect employers to invest further in employee physical and mental health by offering more preventive health measures such as Zoom workout sessions, wellness programs, etc.
According to a 2022 survey done by the American Psychological Association, 81% of employees believe that when applying for a new job, how organizations support mental health plays a key role.
EAPs and regular mental health seminars targeting common causes of employee absence, such as depression, anxiety, and stress, will become standard in reducing attendance issues.
The WHO has found that effectively treating these conditions gives a 4:1 ROI ($4 back for every dollar spent) in improved productivity and employee health. As a result, employees can expect increased insurance and telemedicine offerings.
Since many people utilize self-service telehealth facilities on their mobile devices, we might also notice business owners covering the cost of equipment and the internet.
7. Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) becoming commonplace
As employees moved out of the office, many typical job perks such as nap rooms and casual dress codes have lost importance.
Instead, employees want better and more inclusive healthcare coverage.
This is where EAPs come in.
Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) are voluntary work programs that offer confidential and free services to employees suffering from emotional and mental health problems.
Research has found that the inclusion of EAP counseling saw the rate of presenteeism (employees showing up to work despite being ill and not fully functioning) drop from 56% to about 28%.
EAPs can decrease the employee absence rate while increasing employee morale.
Due to these benefits, we expect EAPs and other workplace programs to become the norm in the coming years, shifting how employers approach employee health.
8. Breaking away from office-first culture
Managers applying remote work principles to in-office employees is the most significant expected trend of 2023.
Essentially, companies will probably focus more on employee autonomy and flexible work arrangements than in-person attendance. This will also be reflected by companies using data from attendance software to keep an eye on employees at risk of overworking.
As a result, employees will probably feel less pressure to be at work, especially when sick (presenteeism). This may lead to an organic improvement in employee attendance and fewer instances of unexcused absences.
There will be a marked shift in the overall company culture, where employees are prioritized.
We’re already witnessing this as 37% of surveyed employees said their company culture has improved since the pandemic.
9. Focus to shift from work hours to work output
The traditional office environment has typically equated productivity with hours worked. However, remote work flipped this concept on its head.
Instead, with time tracking systems measuring employee hours, we know productivity improved when working from home — with employees taking on 50% more tasks by choice.
Studies show that working shorter hours reduces employee burnout, ultimately boosting employee well-being and productivity.
Based on these labor statistics, we expect that productivity will be determined by output and not just by the number of hours worked.
This directly ties into the concept of employee engagement as an engaged employee is less likely to worry about how many hours they worked but rather about the quality of their work.
And so, employees will feel more valued at the workplace, increasing their engagement and eventually reducing their employee absence rate.
10. Increased desire for clarity on the future
Employees still feel the lingering effects of the pandemic as it slowly moves away from the spotlight.
One of the main concerns amongst employees is the lack of certainty regarding their future in the workplace.
How can employers provide a greater sense of clarity?
By being open and honest about the future of the organization and where employees fit in that picture.
You should provide employees with clarity regarding:
- Financial forecast for the organization.
- Updated company profile
- Potential growth opportunities.
- Attendance policy (relating to remote/hybrid work).
According to a 2021 Gallup survey, 53% of employees stated that they are looking for positions that have more security than their current job.
By providing clarity and security within their roles, employees are more likely to avoid unnecessary absenteeism as they feel safe and valued.
The 10 trends above form a pretty good picture of what you can expect in 2023.
Let’s look at how you can get a head start on them.
10 easy ways you can drive employee engagement and attendance
Here are 10 simple ways you can tackle employee attendance and engagement challenges:
1. Encourage employees to use PTO
Encouraging employees to take advantage of their available leaves can allow employees to rest, reducing the chances of employee burnout and subsequent unplanned absence.
2. Trust employees and give more autonomy for work schedules
Allowing employees to participate in forming schedules will showcase your trust in them, leading to increased job satisfaction, engagement, and productivity.
It will also help the HR (Human Resources) department in tracking attendance and employee work schedules effectively.
Moreover, using attendance software to inform employers and colleagues of an unscheduled absence can provide autonomy to modify their schedules in case of emergencies.
It can also deter an employee from indulging in time theft, such as buddy punching. According to a 2021 Quickbooks Time survey, time theft costs US businesses up to $11 billion yearly.
3. Empower employee education
Investing in your employees could mean upskilling them to take on supervisory roles or giving them access to paid online courses at a discounted price.
Maintaining this constant learning stream will help strengthen employees’ connection to the company and improve employee attendance.
4. Focus on employee retention
A high employee turnover rate is disastrous for your bottom line and reputation.
So, redirecting your focus towards retaining employees sends a clear message that your company values its employees and is a good place to work.
This can also positively impact the employee absence rate.
5. Use absence management tools
These tools also offer analysis of absence trends, which can help predict when you might face a staffing shortage.
A highly trusted employee performance management and attendance system, Time Doctor gives you real-time insights into your employees’ workday. Tracking attendance couldn’t be easier!
Learn more about Time Doctor’s other features here.
6. Automate payroll processing
Use tools that directly calculate payroll based on tracked hours to ensure there are no discrepancies and employees are compensated fairly.
You can choose a time and attendance system that automates your payroll. Additionally, if the tool supports direct payment, there’ll be fewer delays in employee payments. All of these can keep employees happy and reduce the absenteeism rate due to dissatisfaction.
7. Avoid micromanagement
By avoiding micromanagement as a business owner or employer, you encourage a greater sense of trust in employees. Micromanagement can lead to low employee morale, which can negatively impact their overall performance.
8. Provide real-time feedback
Help your employees improve their performance by offering real-time feedback on their work ideas instead of waiting for their quarterly or yearly reviews.
9. Adopt radical transparency
Communicating with your employees includes keeping them aware of what’s happening behind the scenes.
For instance, 61% of employees are comfortable with technology being used to monitor their activity. However, 81% said this data must be readily available to employees to enable them to challenge any decisions made using this data.
10. Rehumanize work
Younger generations expect a workplace culture of diversity, equality, and inclusion. Companies that meet these expectations will have an easier time onboarding and retaining top talent and better workforce management.
2022 was the year of hybrid and remote work and increased use of attendance tracking systems for both small businesses and large corporations.
Since most employees prefer this way of working, we can expect companies to build upon these trends with an increased focus on employee well-being.
These factors play a key role in employee attendance trends as they greatly impact an employee and their level of commitment.
Naturally, we also expect organizations to focus on improving overall employee engagement to increase productivity and retention.
One way might be to focus on work output rather than hours, removing the need for outdated timekeeping methods. Others might lean into attendance tracking software, like time clock apps, as an efficient time management method.
Whatever the route, we’re fairly certain that employees will be the priority for most companies in 2023.