How to Improve Employee Attendance

An organization can’t function if no one shows up. Poor attendance drains the morale of staff members, increases expenses and reduces productivity. But before you can try to tackle an absence problem at your business, you must try to find the root cause. Consider these five actions to help in identifying and fixing the underlying issues with the ultimate goal of improving attendance in your workplace.

Set Clear Expectations

Make your employees aware of attendance expectations, rules for taking time off and the impact that poor attendance can have on the company, including its effects on staff members, customer service and productivity. This information should not only be discussed during the onboarding stage but also reinforced to every employee on a regular basis.

Having an employee handbook that clearly lays out the expectations is another important element to having a strong attendance program. By having a physical or electronic document that employees can reference, you will limit the likelihood of excuses such as not knowing all of the details or misunderstanding something when it was first discussed.

It’s also critical to equally apply your attendance policy to ensure a sense of fairness. Employees notice when some people are treated differently which can lead to declining morale and rising turnover.

In terms of attendance policy structure, most companies use a point and/or strike system. These systems hold employees accountable for their absences and demonstrate the consequences that come as a result of continued issues with attendance.

Look for Hidden Causes

Often times, poor attendance can be a side effect of a larger problem. Apart from a common injury or illness, there could be many factors behind why an employee is struggling to make it into work on a consistent basis.

Some of the more common issues to look for would be

  • Conflicts with work colleagues or supervisors
  • Issues with the work itself (ex. too much responsibilities or not enough training)
  • Family or other personal issues

Before disciplinary action is taken, you should take some time to meet with the employee and try to determine the root cause. If you can figure out the problem, you can then start to look at strategies to fix the situation.

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Train Supervisors

Direct supervisors have an important responsibility when it comes to managing absenteeism and encouraging employee attendance. In many organizations, employees must call in directly to their supervisor when they won’t be showing up. It is crucial to have a properly-trained supervisor to ensure signs of a long-term attendance concerns are recognized and taken care of quickly.

You don’t want to have your supervisors always questioning employees though. Initially, they should accept the reason for their absence, describe the impact of them not being there and tell the employee they will be missed. Many times your workers will be calling in for legitimate and necessary reasons, so by avoiding confrontation, everyone will be at ease over the situation.

However, if a pattern is starting to form or a feeling is felt that an employee may be stretching the truth, a note about the absence should be made and the employee should be monitored going forward. If it continues to be a concern, a discussion with the employee will be necessary.

When training supervisors on attendance management consider these three basic questions

  • Do supervisors know how to track attendance?
  • Are they familiar with the attendance policies?
  • Do they know how and when to apply disciplinary actions?

Just like with training your entry-level employees, supervisors should also be getting consistent reminders of your company’s procedures.

Reward Good Attendance

As we mentioned previously, many times attendance programs are based in the point/strike system where disciplinary action is given for those who don’t meet requirements. Balancing it out by offering rewards for good attendance is an excellent way to show that your organization recognizes your most dedicated employees and gives everyone something positive to work towards.

The biggest roadblock when it comes to getting buy in to start rewarding employees on attendance is the idea that you’re now paying them extra, just for showing up. However, these programs don’t have to be a large expense. Starting small in the beginning with perfect attendance certificates or a company-provided lunch and eventually building up to paid time off, cash awards or gift cards is a common approach to implementation.

Offer Flexibility (When Possible)

Although this recommendation may not work in every business environment, implementing flexibility in work schedules can improve attendance and engagement company wide. By allowing employees to switch their hours with co-workers, work from home or telecommute, you’ll be providing a better work-life balance that will aid in both recruiting and retention for your organization.

Similar to the standard attendance policy, any flexible scheduling that is offered should be documented. With employees working schedules that are different than your standard 1st, 2nd or 3rd shift hours, it can be hard to keep track of everything. Make sure you have people, processes and technology in place that can effectively monitor attendance.

Robert Hoeft

Robert Hoeft
Robert Hoeft is a marketing assistant at QPS Employment Group.

Robert Hoeft

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