8 ways to deal with no-call, no-show employees

A no call, no show is a situation when the employee does not show up to work, without getting prior approval from superiors and without letting anyone know he/she will not be coming to work. In some instances, the reason may be good, like for example an accident, but on most occasions, this is not the case.

This type of situation will affect your business as a whole, starting from employees who have to fill in for the role of the missing colleague, and ending with an unsatisfactory performance from the whole team, which, will, in turn, generate a bad customer experience.

Additionally, such situations are costly. According to ‘Absenteeism: The Bottom-Line Killer’, by Circadian, unscheduled absenteeism costs roughly $2,650 each year for salaried employees, so it's a subject that managers worldwide have to deal with.

We have put together a set of 8 concrete actions on how to handle no-call, no-show employees, so if you face this challenge, be sure to follow these pieces of advice.

1. Put in place a No-Call, No-Show policy

The employee handbook has to be the place where attendance rules are settled. Make sure you include information regarding the following:

  • How to request time off - the actual procedure
  • How many types of time off do you offer
  • How to manage last-minute personal days and sick days
  • If signatures are required or every step is digitized
  • How is in charge of filling the position during the absence of the team members
  • Possible consequences for no-call, no-shows
  • Make sure that in the end, your policy is in compliance with all labor laws.


2. Make sure the policy is well understood by everyone

After you have designed the policy, make sure everyone understands it - current employees and new hires. An essential point is for the employees to sign an agreement, confirming their acknowledgment of the rules. 

Don’t make the mistake to think that by writing the policy in the employee handbook, your work is done. Encourage your staff to ask questions and raise inquiries when they have them.

Avoid any misunderstandings regarding this policy from the start. The onboarding process should point out the importance of the No-Call, No-Show policy. 


3. Enforce the policy

Make sure you are firm in applying the policy. Consistency is key in everything.

You may choose one of 2 ways: a zero-tolerance policy for no-call, and no-shows, or adopting an alternative with penalties, which culminate in termination.

Regardless of the path you chose, make sure you do not discriminate and enforce the policy for everyone equally.

It may be the best option to give your employees 2 chances, since there are many possible emergencies, not alike, and these can indeed happen. But even so, sit down with them and explain how their action can or have affected already the team’s morale and productivity.

For more tips on enforcing these types of policies, check out our HR guide on this topic.

Tip: inconsistent enforcement of rules, is just one cause for no-shows, however, we can identify some others:

  • poor dialogue about availability at work
  • problems at home
  • last-minute emergency with the kids
  • problems with employee-manager relations
  • illness
  • depresssion / anxiety
  • transportation problems (car broken, missed bus)
  • slept through alarm
  • not using an absence management software.

4. Revise your absence scheduling practices

If after going through the first 3 steps, you are still experiencing issues with no-call, no-shows, it’s time to observe and improve your scheduling process.

You need to see if:

  • your current absence scheduling process makes it easy for the employees to request time-off
  • your current absence scheduling process makes it easy for the employees to display their availability

Basically, you need to check if flexibility is present in the scheduling process. LeaveBoard is here to help you: Each user has a personal dashboard screen as a staff leave planner with essential insights about the time off. The employees have an overview of their absence requests, vacation, sickness, and other leave types.


5. Create an On-Call list

This can be of great help, especially in organizations where there are some employees who want to work extra hours. You can offer an incentive for the instances one employee comes into work on short notice, in order to cover for another one who did not show up.

Make sure the list is well planned and updated at all times. Ideally, you will have one person responsible for it.

6. Make an effort to really know your employees

On many occasions, repeated no-call, no-shows are the result of some factors, like issues at home, disengagement at work, or bad relations with colleagues/managers. 

Take your time and communicate with your team, see what are the issues, and try to support them. Some of them might not feel appreciated, or stressed out and this might lead to absenteeism. Maybe in some cases, the solution is to offer them the option to work part-time or more flexibility with remote work.


7. Try to remain calm

Even after following all the right steps, you may still find yourself in the position to deal with one no-call, no-show once in a while. 

Don’t get angry, try to remember that your employee knows the policy in effect and that he may have e perfectly legitimate reason for not showing up.

Focus on finding a replacement and then start looking up why the employee did not come to work.

"Absenteeism due to depression costs businesses $77 billion a year."" - Zippia


8. Ask for proof

In some situations, you should ask the employee to bring a document stating he was there he says, during the time he should have been at work. This is another point to be included in the no-call, no-show policy. Transparency is key.

Of course, some family emergencies require no proof, but make sure you avoid being lied to by your employees.

Creating an adequate no-call, no-show policy for your organization may take time, but you will see fast the positive results:

  • enhanced productivity and better morale for the team members
  • less money paid on overtime
  • better communication between managers and employees
  • improved teamwork.


While eliminating 100% of the cases of no-call, no-show is impossible, by following our tips, you will definitely reduce drastically the chances of having issues in this area.

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