Best Practices to Eliminate ‘Missed Shift’ or ‘No Call No Shows’

18% of employees miss a shift. Eliminate missed shifts to help your business cover the losses. Check our guide with best practices to avoid no-call no-shows.
  • Author: Siva
  • Last updated: April 5, 2022
  • 7 Minutes
missed shifts and no call no shows

As a business owner, missed shifts or no call, no shows can be a real problem. Businesses thrive when the workers they employ work together. Even with the best will in the world, it’s close to impossible for a company to grow through the effort of one person alone, no matter how talented they may be. But working as a team develops reliability that can falter when just one cog in the system fails to perform as they should.

If even one worker doesn’t show up for a shift, the results can have a detrimental effect on the productivity and morale of the entire team. It can also affect the ability of the business to run smoothly and effectively. The knock-on effect can lead to bad customer experiences that may cost a business dearly.

But what exactly is a missed shift or no call, no show? And how can a business counter its negative effects? In this article, we will look to answer these questions and more. Let’s get started.

What is a Missed Shift?

A missed shift is where an employee fails to turn up for work at short notice for any reason. Often, a missed shift is because of illness, injury, or family emergency.

The unforeseen nature of a missed shift can leave a business in the lurch, and statistics estimate it can cost many millions of pounds each year in lost revenue for companies.

What is a No Call, No Show?

No call, no show is another phrase employers use to refer to employees who are absent from work. What distinguishes this type of absence from others is that the employee does not notify the employer they will not be attending. This can leave the employer in the lurch with little time to cover the missing shift.

How Can a Business Deal with a No Call, No Show?

There are many ways that a business can deal with a missed shift or no call, no show situation.

When a no call no show happens for the first time, many employers are understanding of the issues that arose to create the absence. This, most times, can lead to them giving the employee a second chance. Some employers even offer three strikes before looking at disciplinary action. However, some employers take a hard line on no call, no show issues and may deal with the situation in one of the following ways:

  1. Terminate the employee’s contract. While this is rare in the first instant, a no call no show is often a breach of contract and could lead to dismissal.
  2. Written or verbal warning. Employers often issue written and verbal warnings as a first step in disciplinary proceedings. The employee will nearly always receive written confirmation of the warning (including verbal ones). They will also detail any further action they could take if necessary. Employers often set up specific parts of their employee handbook or individual policies to dictate how they will handle warnings.
  3. Stopping the employee’s pay. If an employee fails to appear for work when they should, they may find that their employer will stop their pay for that period of time. No worker should expect to receive pay if they aren’t present at work.

Missed Shifts and No Call, No Show Policy

To handle missed shifts and no call, no show issues, companies often implement a no call, no show policy. The policy often dictates what the employer considers a no call, no show issue, and the disciplinary action that will take place if it occurs.

Having this sort of policy in place tells employees what the consequences are for not showing up at work, without giving advance notice. Within the policy, clear guidelines will explain how much notice needs to be given in the event an employee cannot come to work.

What Should Be Included in a No Call No Show Policy?

No call, no show policies often have core rules that can apply to a range of businesses. We would advise, however, that companies create such a policy based on their own specific needs and the nature of the work they undertake.

To ensure that staff understands the consequences of no call, no show situations, a clear policy should include:

  • A definition of what no-call no-show means. This can reduce confusion and gives little wriggle room for employees to try to avoid disciplinary action should they miss a shift.
  • Rules for attendance. The no-show no-call policy should explain what the rules are for attendance. Again, this will prevent confusion. It will also stop employees from claiming they did not understand their responsibilities.
  • Clear procedures for when an employee is absent. The policy should set out exactly what an employee should do when they are going to be absent. This will include things like how and when you expect them to contact the business and how often they need to do this.

As a Business Owner, How Can I Prevent No Call, No Show Issues?

There are many ways that a business can prevent no-call, no-show issues. These include:

1. Have a generous time-off policy

People aren’t perfect, and personal problems can arise at any moment. One of the primary reasons that people fail to show up to work without calling is when something happens that is out of their hands. The emergency nature of the situation can lead to them neglecting to call work as they are too busy or believe it will get them into trouble.

If employees know they can quickly ask for a day off and have it granted, they are far more likely to feel supported. And, more importantly, less likely to disappear without explanation.

2. Schedule shifts with good notice

Another reason for missed shifts is shift confusion or mismanagement of schedules. If an employee has to juggle multiple responsibilities and relationships outside work and then deal with spur of the moment scheduling from their employer, they are more likely to encounter work/life clashes. This can put employees in a bind, having to choose between personal responsibilities and work commitments.

The good news is avoiding this is relatively easy. Publishing schedules in good time and with good notice help employees plan well in advance. It can also help them avoid issues they may otherwise experience.

3. Involve Your Employees in Scheduling

Businesses will often implement a schedule without speaking to their employees first. If shift patterns rarely vary, this is often fine. But where changes are more dramatic, problems can arise. This is especially true if a company expects employees to work unsociable hours or at the weekends. Unsurprisingly, employees who are unhappy with their shift pattern are far more likely to miss shifts than those who aren’t. By involving employees in the scheduling process, employers can tailor schedules to the business and staff needs. This can, in turn, reduce the likelihood of absenteeism.

4. Train Your Employees

Employees often fail to show up to work because of a lack of basic skills, like time management. Many workers who miss shifts struggle to manage their own time effectively or don’t respect other people’s time. Some employees are just plain irresponsible or have issues with authority. This can cause them to skip work without thinking about the consequences.

Training employees on what your business expects of them is the first step to bringing them into your way of thinking. Step two is letting them know the consequences of their actions and how this can affect their fellow workmates and the business as a whole.

5. Make The Consequences of Missed Shifts Known

Sometimes your employees need some tough love. Your management team should make sure employees understand what the consequences of absenteeism for them will be. That means having a no show policy that explains exactly what you expect of them and what the punishments for failing to attend will be. It’s important to note, however, that businesses must be seen to be fairly enforcing this policy for all employees.

When an employee fails to show up, they should be given feedback on their behaviour, including what the expectations for them are in the future. The employer should also inform the employee of any further consequences that will happen if more issues arise.

6. Show Your Appreciation to Your Staff

Sometimes, showing your appreciation to staff members who attend work without fail can incentivise others to follow suit. Businesses who offer a loyalty or bonus scheme which rewards staff who have few absences often see better attendance rates than those that don’t. Bonuses can come in a variety of forms, including:

  1. A monetary bonus (either lump sum or hourly increase).
  2. Extra days or time off.
  3. Prizes or other physical incentives.

In Conclusion

No call, no-shows can be incredibly damaging to businesses. From shortages in staffing to losses in revenue, employees who miss shifts are the bane of any company, especially small ones.

We hope you’ve found this guide useful. For more workplace guides, check out the rest of our website.

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Photo by NoWah Bartscher on Unsplash



Written by Siva

I write & describe the value & benefits delivered by Paperhift's rota planning, staff time tracking, and employee payroll management software. Especially useful for Shift Planners, Rota Managers, Team Admins, and HR Teams :-)