No-Call No-Show: How To Deal With Employees Who Don’t Show Up For Work

No-Call No-Show employees

It happens. You have a couple of employees who do amazing work. There's no doubt that these individuals are an asset to the company. But…they don't show up for work rather frequently and don't even bother calling in to provide a reason for their unplanned absence. That's a bummer! How do you address this issue in a quick and effective manner?  

Simply reprimanding no-call, no-show employees might have been an approach that worked in the past, but the 21st century requires a more proactive and calculated approach. Establishing expectations up front and enforcing policies regarding attendance can help ensure that your business runs smoothly and consistently.

In this article, we share tips on how to deal with no-call no-show to work.

But first, let's start by understanding the consequences of constant, unhandled employee absenteeism.

Unplanned Absences Have a Much Bigger Impact Than You Think

In the rush and buzz of a busy workplace, it's easy to view no-shows and no-calls as just another hurdle, but we often don't stop to think about the long-term damage. Absence from work affects productivity, not only of the person who doesn't show up, but direct and indirect workmates as well as clients.

employee's pay, employees fail

For instance, if a restaurant employee who works in the kitchen doesn't report for her next shift of work, the restaurant manager has to find a substitute immediately. If the absence was communicated in good time, appropriate steps can be taken in advance. If it's an unplanned and unauthorized absence, there'll be pain as colleagues double over to fill orders while waiters sit and wait, losing critical minutes leading to delayed orders, frustrated customers, and brand damage.

And it comes at a price:

Unscheduled absenteeism costs employers roughly $3,600 per year for each hourly worker and $2,660 each year for salaried employees. That's according to "Absenteeism: The Bottom-Line Killer", a publication by Circadian. Tally up these figures against the total number of workers in the country, and you bet that the losses will definitely run into tens of billions.

How to Deal with No-Call No-Show Employees

Now that we've covered the impact that unplanned, uncommunicated employee absenteeism has on a business, let's explore some of the most effective tips and best practices on how to deal with this issue.

1.Craft a No-Call Now-Show Policy

If you don't have a no-call no-show policy in place, make that your starting point. In its simplest form, it establishes what you expect and the consequences for those who don't comply with the laid-out attendance rules.

Your policy should include these key points:

  • Clearly define what you consider a no-call no-show incident.
  • Clarify the difference between excused and unexcused absences.
  • Detail the disciplinary actions for no-call no-shows.
  • Explain how many no-call no-shows can be excused (if any) without an employee losing the job. 
  • Explain due procedures for requesting time off.

Have an attendance policy already? Great! Rather than creating a new policy altogether, you can edit it to include specific clauses that exhaustively address no-call no-shows and job abandonment.

After you have drafted your no-call no-show policy, present it to an employment attorney for review. They’ll help ensure that it complies with local, federal, or state laws. You don't want to be caught off guard down the road by a legal issue that shouldn't have existed in the first place.

2. Get the Word Out

Just as important as formulating an effective no-call no-show policy is telling your people about it. I can almost hear you asking, "Updating the employee handbook or sending out an email will cut it, right?"

The answer is no. You need to go the extra mile, lest your no-call no-show policy joins the list of all your other company policies that fell at the first hurdle.

Consider holding a hands-on meeting with your employees to talk through the specifics of the policy. If questions arise, answer them right there and then in a clear, transparent manner.

Once that's done, have each employee sign a document that states they've read and understood the policy. Keep the signed form in their employment file so you can use it at a later date if need be.

We also recommend that you include the new policy as part of your onboarding processes. This way, it'll be easier to hold new hires accountable should they choose to pull off a no-call no-show during their employment stint.

3. Enforce the Policy

Next comes the tricky part: actually enforcing the no-call no-show policy. But if you got the first two parts right, you will not experience much difficulty with this one. Applying your first no call back policy in a haphazard and unstructured manner will undo all the good that you've done up to this point, so focus on getting it right the first time.

There are a few things you should keep in mind while enforcing the no-call no-show policy:

  • Have a one-on-one conversation with the absent employee: This is your chance to reiterate how being constantly absent affects not just the cohesion of the team, but the team morale and the company as a whole. Make them understand that there's a lot more at stake than they think.
  • Don't mince your words: Make it clear that you, as employer, have the right to terminate the employee, no matter how talented he or she is, as a result of constant no-call now-shows.
  • Determine specific consequences tied to missing work: Refer back to the written policy for guidance. Ideally, an employee should get at least two chances for a no-call no-show, but not without a verbal warning. The first violation should be accompanied by a verbal warning. In the event that the employee has failed to correct his or her actions, a written warning is more appropriate. The third violation should be followed by a suspension, unless, of course, there's a valid reason behind the employee's absence.
  • Steer clear of bias: The defaulter might be the best employee on your team, but that doesn't mean they get a free pass for a no-call no-show. Remain level-headed throughout and make sure the rules apply equally for all employees, regardless of their talent or rank. 
  • Don't jump into conclusions, though: While it's tempting to lash out at an employee who constantly skips work, refrain from doing so and instead act from a place of concern. They could genuinely be going through a difficult situation. Perhaps they had a car accident and suffered serious injuries as a result, or maybe they have a medical emergency that inevitably puts them out of work for several days. Find out if that's the case, and if so, be sure to offer additional support. They'll thank you for it by being loyal and consistent when the dust finally settles.

No matter what your policy enforcement goals are, make sure no one is exempted from the process, not even leadership. It's very important that managers lead by example and enforce the no-call no-show policy from top down. After all, any behavior from leadership that violates the policy grants unspoken permission for other employees to act the same way. It tells them that the company doesn't care one bit about the policy.

4. Have a Back-Up Plan On Hand

Sounds like a no-brainer, right? Surprisingly, many business are brought into a grinding halt when an employee fails to show up for work without a prior notice. The good news: this can be averted by putting an actionable back-up plan in place.

Have a ready list of people you can call in for duty should a no-call no-show happen, otherwise known as an "on-call list". Current employees wanting extra hours can put themselves forward to cover unexpected absences.

Alternatively, you could source some options from your previous interviews of the same position. If you're just looking for a quick fix without long term engagements, zero-hour employees or freelancers could suffice.

5. Address the Core of the Problem through Flexible Scheduling

One employee pulling a no-call no-show every once in a while isn't something to lose sleep over. However, when several employees make it a habit to skip work without prior communication, it's an indication of a deeper issue. More often than not, it's your scheduling that's flawed and in need of a total overhaul.

To make sure your employee scheduling process is working as it should, ask yourself these questions:

  • Does it make it easy for employees to indicate availability?
  • Can employees take over open shifts quickly and conveniently?
  • Does your scheduling system allow employees to exchange shifts seamlessly?

If the answer to any of the above questions is no, rest assured your employees are having trouble using your system. As such, skipping work will appear as the easier and more convenient option.

The best employee scheduling software won't just allow you to create work schedules quickly and easily; it'll put your greatest asset—your employees—front and center. Specifically, it'll enable them to specify their availability and swap shifts among themselves with the approval of the scheduler. As an added bonus to you and your administrators, inviting employees to pick up an open shift, setting the minimum required shifts, and making changes to the timesheet will be a total breeze. 

Ultimately, having this sort of order and cadence will streamline the scheduling process for you and your employees. Even the most notorious no-call no-show employee won't have an excuse for not adhering to the attendance rules, which plays to the overall goal of ensuring a truly productive, well-oiled workplace.

6. Document Anything and Everything

Much as you might be tempted to trust a defaulter's word of mouth, don't. If the employee tells you that they have a legitimate reason for missing work, ask for supporting documentation. For example, if they were away on the basis of sick leave, a doctor's note or evidence of a health condition should be presented without excuses.

So why keep records of all no-call no-show incidents?

It's simple: in the event that you end up terminating an employee's contract, no one can sue you for wrongful termination.

Useful Read: Crafting a Contract Termination Letter: Guidelines and Sample Template

If an employee has been away for a considerably long time and shows no signs of coming back, reach out to them and retain all evidence of that interaction. Preferably, send them an email, noting that you consider their prolonged absence as job abandonment. Emails come off as more professional and formal compared to text messages and can actually be documented.

7. Engage Your Employees at a Personal Level

While it's great to have a system that can cater to no-call no-show incidents if and when they arise, wouldn't it be awesome if there was none at all?

Sometimes, all it takes to prevent no-call no-shows from happening is to get to know your employees really well. These types of absences often stem from disengagement, either at work or home, or both.

It could be that the no-call no-show employee is lacking motivation, facing harassment from colleagues, or maybe they just don't feel appreciated enough. Perhaps the employee is going through difficult family or personal issues and simply needs a hand. You won't know any of this unless you commit to observing your workforce and talking to them.

Useful Read: How to Build a Comprehensive Anti-Harassment Policy

Disengaged employees may not provide a real reason for their constant and uncommunicated absenteeism, but you might get some hunches from those conversations. Keep in mind that such talks are best approached in a casual, composed, and compassionate manner.

Once you get to the root of the problem, explore possible solutions depending on the unique situation of the defaulter. For example, you could offer incentives or awards for no-call no-show employees that feel underappreciated, resolve workplace conflicts through team building exercises, allow shift swapping for those with tight schedules, and provide struggling team members with ready and consistent support.

Even if you won't end up forming a tight bond with your employees, you can sleep easy at night knowing that policy violations won't be a constant occurrence and that your workplace change is indeed changing for the better.

Candid image of a group with succesful business people caught in an animated brainstorming meeting

Final Words

No-call no-shows at work is a huge problem for many businesses. Companies of all sizes, with salaried or hourly employees, are constantly struggling with repeated, unplanned absenteeism and job abandonment.

But the foundation of this problem is always the same—it happens when:

  • Your employees are troubled, unhappy, or downright demotivated
  • Your scheduling process is a mess and pretty much incapable

When you address no-call no-show issues, you'll be well on your way to creating happy and satisfied who are actually glad to report to work every single day. This, in turn, will ensure you're never understaffed during busy work periods. That's a big win for you, your customers, and your bottom line.

Before making company-wide changes, find out why employees aren't showing up. Then, address these problems with a detailed no-call no-show policy and a formidable scheduling software.

Speaking of a scheduling tool, Shiftbase was developed with the above scenarios in mind. With our top-rated software, you can create schedules easily, track hours worked, bring employees in on the action, and above all else, maintain productivity in the long run. Sign up for a free trial today and see Shiftbase in action!

Topic: HRM / No Call No Show