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What to do when an employee walks off the job or doesn’t show

What should I do if an employee doesn’t show up for a shift?

If walking off the job is out of the ordinary for an employee, first make sure they are okay. Call them and their emergency contacts.

If it is truly odd that the employee did not show up, after the second day, I may even call the police. Otherwise, check your state and local laws, but if an employee no-calls no-shows, that is grounds for termination and is usually also considered voluntary job abandonment.  

If the employee happens to later have proof that they no-called no-showed because they were in an emergency situation, I might discipline and give them one more chance. Otherwise, I assume it is job abandonment.

Of course, it’s possible your employee just forgot about their shift. You can limit that by using work scheduling software like Homebase that will send them automatic reminders whenever the schedule is published and one hour before their shift starts.

What should I do if an employee walks out?

Having an employee walk out is a very likely sign that the employee quit on the spot with no letter of resignation or notice period, leaving their coworkers to pick up the slack. This is usually a breach of contract and can compromise the employee‘s eligibility for unemployment insurance and unemployment benefits. You should also confirm with your human resources department what happens when an employee leaves without that employee’s resignation.Their contract of employment likely specifies the need for two weeks’ notice or similar, as well as the requirements to return company property. 

You should also be aware of state laws and federal law when it comes to employees walking out of a job. While you can not withhold their final paycheck, it can be within your rights to use the employee’s leftover vacation time or pay to cover their notice period.

How to prevent employee walkouts

If an employee walks out, this is a signal that something is going wrong in the workplace.

Yes, an employee should never walk off the job, and of course, it’s grounds for termination (depending on circumstances and legal compliance).  But, ask yourself what is going on with your management style and workplace culture to drive an employee to this action.

A powerful and simple habit to transform your management style and commitment of your employees is to regularly have brief conversations with employees that you trust and adjust their working conditions accordingly.

Ask them for help with your growth in your management style. Ask what is going well and what you can do to improve. Then, if you follow up on their advice every few weeks by checking in to ask them if you are doing any better on the items they suggested, you’ll improve your management style dramatically. Your employees will also work harder to help you and the business succeed.  

If you have an employee walking off on the job, take this team culture quiz to see if the problem is you or them.  

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