Job abandonment

Job Abandonment: What To Do Before Employees Disappear

Don’t let job abandonment become a problem in your business. Learn how to spot the signs and keep your employees from disappearing.

In this article, we define job abandonment, reveal why it happens, and give you steps to prevent this behavior from affecting your team.

Table of contents

What is job abandonment?

empty tables at a cafe

Job abandonment is when a team member is absent from the workplace for several consecutive days without giving prior notice and without communicating when — or if — they will return to work.

Many managers confuse job abandonment with no call, no show absences, but the two are not synonymous.

A no call, no show absence occurs once within a given workweek. You may consider it job abandonment once a no call, no show absence stretches into two, three, or four consecutive days within a given workweek (depending on your policies).

For example, if an employee doesn’t show up for their shift on Tuesday (and doesn’t call you) but then returns to work on Wednesday, that’s a no call, no show absence.

On the other hand, if an employee doesn’t show up for their shift on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, that’s job abandonment.

In either situation — no call, no show absence or job abandonment — you have an obligation to contact the employee to find out why they didn’t report for work.

No call, no show absences are usually grounds for discipline of some type.

Job abandonment, alternatively, skips the disciplinary steps and goes right to voluntary termination — voluntary, rather than involuntary, because the employee chose to skip work without telling you.

Before you act, though, check local, state, and federal laws regarding job abandonment (e.g., the Family and Medical Leave Act and Disabilities Act) to ensure that you’re not violating your employee’s rights.

Why does job abandonment happen?

Empty office with laptop and blue chair

There are many reasons why employees abandon their jobs. Chief amongst those reasons are:

  • Embarrassment
  • Fear of resigning in person
  • Inability to meet job requirements
  • Ignorance of your business’s absenteeism policy
  • Receipt of a better offer elsewhere
  • Unawareness of how their absence will affect your team

Whatever the employee’s motivation may be for not reporting to work, there are steps you can take before they reach that point to help them stay engaged in their job and prevent abandonment from happening.

How to prevent job abandonment

two business women discussing job abandonment

1) Include job abandonment policies in your employee handbook

Every business should have policies in place to deal with absences — be they one-time occurrences that lead to discipline or multiple-day stretches that lead to termination.

Without such policies, employees can start to take advantage of the system. This can result in significant scheduling, efficiency, and morale problems for your business.

One of the best ways to deal with absence problems before they start is to create a specific policy in your employee handbook.

This policy should include the proper methods for handling emergencies and time-off requests. It should then define what constitutes abandonment so your employees know exactly what it is.

Finally, this policy should list the possible consequences of not telling anyone that you’re not coming in to work.

We also recommend hiring a lawyer who is well-versed in your state’s employment laws to review your policy. That way you can be sure you’ve covered all your bases legally in case you have to deal with this type of issue in a court of law.

2) Conduct periodic employee reviews

Periodic performance reviews are an effective way to avoid employee attendance problems before they begin and prevent job abandonment in the long run.

During the employee review, be sure to address both good and bad behaviors, as well as good and bad performance you have noted so that the employee can build on the good and reduce the bad.

Doing so gives the employee something to focus on — improving their performance — and serves as a challenge that keeps them excited about their job.

Schedule your employee reviews every three months to keep your team members focused, engaged, and happy in their work.

3) Learn how to motivate your employees

Motivating your employees can be a daunting and difficult task — mainly because there are so many different personality types (16 dominant ones at current count).

But when you take the time to identify the personality types that make up your team, you can give your employees tasks that are a fit for the way their brains naturally work.

When you do that, your employees stay motivated and the likelihood that they will abandon their jobs decreases dramatically.

4) Offer medical leave and vacation time

Fringe benefits like medical leave and vacation time not only help to boost morale and enjoyment, but they also reduce the chance that an employee will abandon their job completely.

As we discussed, job abandonment can have a profound effect on every aspect of your business. Nine times out of 10, you can trace abandonment back to illness, an accident, or some other medical condition.

If you offer medical leave or vacation time to your employees, they will avail themselves of that perk to get the time off they need rather than simply leaving work one day and never showing up or calling again.

5) Offer competitive wages and benefits

Meeting to talk about job abandonment at bar

Competitive wages may go a long way toward preventing job abandonment from occurring in the first place.

If an employee feels that they are being paid well for their hard work, they’ll be less likely to entertain thoughts of leaving.

At some point, though, the wages you pay may reach the upper limit of what your business can handle. Rather than push your labor costs to the breaking point — and your bottom line into the red — you might consider offering other benefits to your team.

Examples include:

  • Health insurance
  • Dental insurance
  • Life insurance
  • 401k contributions
  • Gym membership
  • Profit sharing
  • Student loan payoff assistance

At first, adding these or other fringe benefits may seem just as cost-prohibitive as higher wages. But, in some cases, the actual obligation that your business has to shoulder may be less because it’s divided between the total number of employees on your roster.

6) Improve employee satisfaction

Every business can benefit from good employee satisfaction (and not just as it applies to preventing job abandonment). Employee satisfaction plays a significant role in hard-to-define elements such as happiness, motivation, and engagement.

Combined with company culture, wages, and other variables, high employee satisfaction can help you retain your team members longer.

To improve employee satisfaction, consider conducting an employee survey. The answers your team gives to the questions you ask can provide insight into the inner workings of your business and how you can make it all better.

7) Show your team you value their work

Another great way to help prevent job abandonment is to show your team that you value their work as often as possible.

Take the initiative to congratulate your employees as a group for successfully completing a difficult project or a busy dinner service.

And, don’t forget to single out each employee once in a while — even a simple “Nice job completing your tasks” can go a long way — to help them feel like a valued member of the company.

8) Build strong oversight

In some cases, a lack of effective oversight — i.e., the abilities of the people who manage your teams — may be the primary cause of an employee abandoning their job.

The employee/employer relationship is the cornerstone of all successful teams, so do your best to build strong oversight at all levels of your organization by improving and maintaining the core skills of your managers.

9) Focus on communication

Effective communication is one of the foundational elements of a strong team, company culture, and business.

To help prevent job abandonment from occurring, focus on improving your workplace communication by being as clear, concise, and effective as possible — and encouraging your employees to do the same.

With practice, you and your team may notice improvements in all corners of your business.

10) Give employees the tools they need to be productive

When your employees lack the tools they need to be productive, they’ll likely have to spend more time than necessary completing their regular tasks.

This can lead to delays and frustration. If those delays and frustrations go on long enough, your employees may experience the burnout that can lead to job abandonment.

To prevent this from becoming an issue, do your best to give your team the resources they need to do their jobs quickly and efficiently.

What to do when you suspect job abandonment

What to do when you suspect job abandonment

1) Consult your job abandonment policy

The first thing you may want to do when you suspect that an employee has left without notification is consult your job abandonment policy.

Abandonment in any form can cause emotions to run high and lead you to do or say things that you may later regret. Reviewing the procedures outlined in your employee handbook can help you stay calm and remove anger, disappointment, and frustration from the equation.

When you keep a level head despite the difficult situation, you’ll be better prepared to make good decisions going forward and when dealing with an employee who has left you in the lurch.

2) Attempt to contact the employee

After consulting your job abandonment policy, make a plan to contact the employee to find out what’s going on.

We say “make a plan” because calling, emailing, or texting without first gathering your thoughts may make things more difficult than they need to be.

Consider writing a script for what you want to say so your emotions don’t get the best of you (keep this script on hand in case something like this happens again).

The idea is not to scold or berate, but to understand the reason for their absence and whether or not they want to return to work.

However you choose to contact the employee, do your best to keep your language as professional as possible. You might even want to have a trusted coworker review your script before you dial or type so as to avoid saying the wrong thing.

3) Give the employee the benefit of the doubt

As you attempt to engage the missing employee, do your best to give them the benefit of the doubt.

After all, they may be absent not because they want to be malicious, but because they are experiencing a medical or personal crisis that is preventing them from getting in touch with you.

When you do finally try to contact the employee, you may have to wait for them to return your call, text, or email. In the interim, do your best to be patient and try not to make any rash decisions.

As we mentioned earlier, having a script for what you want to say before attempting contact and then having something to occupy your mind afterward can help you stay productive until the matter is resolved.

4) Complete necessary paperwork

If the employee has decided to leave the job permanently, be sure to complete all the necessary termination paperwork.

This includes but is not limited to:

  • Issuing a final paycheck for any hours worked
  • Attempting to retrieve any company property still in their possession
  • Notifying local, state, and federal authorities (according to compliance policies)
  • Filling out any company forms regarding the termination
  • Filing said forms in the employee’s file

Engaging in these activities after the employee has left ensures that you have everything documented and in order should the information be needed for tax or legal purposes.

5) Exercise consistency

As we mentioned earlier, job abandonment can be an emotional event for you and your business. Regardless, it’s in your best interest (and the best interest of your business) to be as consistent as possible when it comes to handling everything that comes after.

In fact, you want to be as consistent as possible in everything you do before the job abandonment even occurs.

Chances are good that there will be signs leading up to the employee’s decision to leave without notice (i.e., no call, no show absences). You want to handle those absences fairly and transparently so everyone is treated equally.

That means you don’t terminate someone for their first no call, no show absence while allowing another person to stay on after accruing three or four no call, no show absences.

Remaining consistent is all about establishing an absenteeism policy and then holding all team members to the same standards.

Job abandonment and the busy restaurant

Woman making a cocktail

Though job abandonment is hard on any business, it can be especially difficult for busy restaurants.

Your staff is often pushed to the limit on a daily basis, and asking them to pick up the slack of another employee may lead to bad feelings, burnout, and exhaustion.

Instead of asking even more of your full-time team, consider promoting one or two of your part-time employees to full-time status to cover the missing team member.

Alternatively, you could try contacting someone who interviewed for a position but didn’t get the job — or contacting a previous employee who left on good terms — to see if they would be willing to come in for a few shifts.

The former is an easy way to add someone to the team without going through the long process of hiring a brand-new employee. The latter can give you time to interview, hire, and onboard a new staff member to permanently take the place of the one who left.

Whichever method you choose, do your best not to overload the remaining employees to the point that they become disgruntled and start to entertain thoughts of leaving as well.

Avoid job abandonment with effective scheduling

Avoid job abandonment with effective scheduling

One of the best ways to avoid job abandonment is to improve your employees’ work performance through effective scheduling. And the best way to schedule your team quickly and efficiently is with the Sling suite of tools.

At its core, Sling makes it possible — and easy! — to schedule even the most complicated shifts, like:

But the benefits don’t stop there. Sling also offers advanced features, such as:

With Sling, you have everything you need to make your job — and your employees’ jobs — easier and more enjoyable.

And when your team is happy, the potential for job abandonment decreases significantly.

For more free resources to help you manage your business better, organize and schedule your team, and track and calculate labor costs, visit today.

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This content is for informational purposes and is not intended as legal, tax, HR, or any other professional advice. Please contact an attorney or other professional for specific advice.

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