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How to Reduce Absenteeism with Workplace Interventions

Workplace conflict can have dire financial consequences as a result of loss in productivity. Discover how to empower employees again with team meetings and avoid Burned-out Employees.

Rudeness and conflict in your workplace can kill employee productivity and morale.

Research shows negative social environments cause employee stress, anxiety, and depression. This leads to lost productivity or even retaliation against the organization, and may result in major financial losses.

Employee unrest is bad for firm health.

Research by Michael P. Leiter (Acadia University), Heather K. Laschinger (Western University), Arla Day, and Debra Oore (both of Saint Mary’s University), looked at the impact of weekly or bi-weekly meetings on employee incivility in the health care sector. Of the 41 units studied, eight participated in meetings over a six-month timeframe. Meetings were lead by a facilitator and addressed topics including: attentiveness, accountability, cooperation, conflict resolution, professionalism, justifying one’s own rude behaviour, and leadership.

Researchers compared these eight units with their counterparts to understand whether regular meetings improved social relationships and, ultimately, impacted employee turnover, absenteeism, burnout, trust in management, job commitment, and satisfaction.

Team meetings reduce workplace dissatisfaction.

Employees in units that participated and communicated in meetings saw improved civility, less burnout, more positive job attitudes, and greater trust in management among both supervisors and coworkers. Notably, researchers discovered a 38 per cent reduction in absences in participating units. The study attributed reduction in burnout and feelings of cynicism to an improvement in the work environment and employee well-being, as a result of the intervention.

This study offers advice for managers seeking to use team meetings to improve workplace social environment:

  • Encourage employee ownership. Employees should be involved in planning and executing team meetings. Give them a chance to weigh in on meeting length, frequency, space, and the nature of meeting activities.

  • Use a facilitator and active learning methods. Meetings should be lead by a dedicated facilitator. Exercises should allow participants to practice new ways of interacting, including active listening, settling disputes, using metaphors in conflict resolution, and brainstorming. This will help employees develop healthy, new habits.

  • Address good and bad behaviour. Exercises should help employees identify and discuss negative behaviours, to raise awareness and diffuse impact. Help employees find alternative behaviours through exercises focused on positive social interactions.

Communication is key.

Turn your burnt-out, resentful staff into a vibrant, present group again by opening up channels of communication via productive team interventions that promote cohesion and collaboration.

Meetings that are facilitated professionally and foster a safe listening space where staff can share their views result in more fruitful relationships across teams, reduced absenteeism, and better corporate outcomes by extension.

For further reading, see NBS article “Satisfied Employees Boost your Stock Price“.

Leiter, M.P., Laschinger, H.K., Day, A., and Oore, D.B. 2011. “The Impact of Civility Interventions on Employee Social Behavior, Distress, and Attitudes.” Journal of Applied Psychology.96.6: 1258-1274.

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