The COVID pandemic has forever changed the way we work — and a lot 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 previous years’ employee attendance trends, such as the reliance on timesheets and the popularity of remote work, to make calculated predictions about what you can expect in 2022.
We’ll also provide ten easy ways you can improve employee engagement, attendance, and productivity at your workplace.
This Article Includes:
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- 10 Employee Attendance Trends to Track in 2022
- Increased Focus on Employee Engagement
- AI to Transform Day-to-Day Employee Experience
- Employee Mental Health to Become Top Priority
- Hyper-Personalization of Employee Experience
- Hybrid and Remote Work Is Here to Stay
- Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) Becoming Commonplace
- Focus to Shift from Work Hours to Work Output
- Increased Accommodation Requests
- A Reframing of Employee Health
- Breaking Away From Office-First Culture
- 10 Easy Ways You Can Drive Employee Engagement and Attendance
10 Employee Attendance Trends to Track in 2022
With remote work becoming the norm and growing awareness of the importance of mental health, there’s a lot of change expected in the workplace in 2022.
We’ve listed our top 10 employee attendance trends and how each of them might improve engagement in your organization.
1. Increased Focus on Employee Engagement
The pandemic made everyone – employers and employees – reevaluate their priorities.
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.
Employers 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 are more productive, connected to the workplace, 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 will play a massive role in improving employee experience.
AI (Artificial Intelligence) will help automate routine, time-consuming tasks like data entry, freeing up employee time to be better utilized. One study found that utilizing AI tools can increase overall productivity by up to 40%.
As employees will be free of repetitive and tedious tasks, their work satisfaction will naturally increase.
You’ll notice your employees are happier and eager to work. And when employees feel fulfilled, it has a direct positive impact on their health, reducing how many unscheduled sick leaves they take.
3. Employee Mental Health to Become Top Priority
When employees are burned out, it can drastically increase the 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 personal leave, no questions asked.
- Encourage employees to take sick leave if they feel even slightly unwell.
- Let employees work from home.
- Introduce flexible work timings.
Additionally, we expect this trend to rise with more mobile apps and websites offering a wide variety of online mental health services. Similarly, we believe mental health offerings will become an expectation rather than a perk for recruitment.
4. Hyper-Personalization of Employee Experience
Just the same way AI tools can personalize the customer experience, you can use them to offer a better employee experience.
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 absenteeism before it becomes a major problem.
These tools can also look at other attendance 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 scheduling using this data.
The attendance platform 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 during that time. The software can alert managers to adjust staffing levels accordingly.
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.
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.
At the same time, some employees want to go back to the office, but not for a full workweek.
6. 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 workplaces with EAPs noticed a steep decline in sick leave usage, i.e., 4.8-6.5% fewer lost hours due to illness. So, they were highly effective in reducing employee absenteeism compared to non-EAP workplaces.
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.
7. 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, through time tracking systems measuring employee hours, we know that productivity improved when working from home — with employees taking on 50% more tasks by choice. They also worked longer, an average of eight hours more per day.
Based on these statistics, we expect that rather than simply showing up to work, productivity in 2022 will be determined by output.
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 on the quality of their work.
And so, employees will feel more valued at the workplace, increasing their engagement and eventually reducing their absence rate.
8. Increased Accommodation Requests
Even as the pandemic continues, several companies have started reopening offices.
However, many employees are still afraid of getting infected and spreading it to their loved ones, leading to hesitancy about returning to the office.
As a result, we expect companies to receive more accommodation requests than ever before. To ensure employee retention, organizations will have to handle individual employee requests on a case-by-case basis.
Employers can transparently outline their back-to-work plan for occupations where work from the office (WFO) is required — covering sanitation procedures, social distancing protocols, and more.
This might go a long way towards alleviating employee anxiety and help you avoid the labor cost of replacing your workforce.
9. 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.
EAPs and regular mental health seminars targeting common causes of employee absence such as depression, anxiety, and stress will become standard.
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 employers covering the cost of equipment and the internet.
For instance, Shopify announced in March 2020 they would cover the cost of purchasing necessary work supplies for their remote employees.
10. Breaking Away From Office-First Culture
Managers applying remote work principles to in-office employees is the most significant expected trend of 2022.
Essentially, companies will probably focus more on employee work output than physical presence. This will also be reflected by companies using data from attendance solutions to keep an eye on employees at risk of overworking.
As a result, employees will probably feel less pressure to be present at work, especially when sick (presenteeism). This may lead to an organic improvement in employee attendance and fewer unscheduled 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.
The 10 trends mentioned above form a pretty good picture of what you can expect in 2022.
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 engagement and attendance 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
Allowing employees to create and maintain their own schedule will showcase your trust in them, leading to increased job satisfaction, engagement, and productivity.
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.
5. Use Absence Management Tools
You might already be using attendance tracking software to manage employee absences. Analyzing these absence trends can also help predict when you might face a staffing shortage.
A highly trusted employee performance and attendance management system, Time Doctor gives you real-time insights into your employees’ workday.
Learn more about Time Doctor’s features here.
6. Automate Payroll Processing
Research suggests that employees are working an average of 7.3 hours extra per week, leaving companies open to non-compliance and underpayment lawsuits.
To avoid this, you can choose a time and attendance system that automates your payroll, ensuring employees are compensated for all working hours.
It will enable your HR (Human Resources) department to track employee work schedules and send notifications if it detects an employee trying to outsmart the system through buddy punching or other forms of time theft.
7. Avoid Micromanagement
By trusting employees, you’re helping them take ownership of their work and approach managers if they need further assistance, removing the need for micromanagement.
8. Provide Real-Time Feedback
Help your employees improve their performance by offering real-time feedback on their work ideas 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, while 30% of employees are comfortable with their employer monitoring their email, this number rises to 50% when employees understand why.
10. Rehumanize Work
Younger generations are increasingly expecting a workplace culture of diversity, equality, and inclusion. Companies that meet these expectations will have an easier time onboarding top talent from around the world.
2020 and 2021 were the years of remote work and attendance tracking systems.
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.
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 timecards. Others might lean into attendance software as an efficient time management method.
Whatever the route, we’re fairly certain that employees will be the priority for most companies in 2022.