Managing employee attendance is crucial for your small business to thrive. It is vital that your employees show up for work—as excessive absences can significantly impact your business’ productivity and overall employee morale. Developing a strong attendance policy, using time tracking software, and providing benefits and resources to help employees limit unexpected absences are just some effective ways to combat attendance issues.
Read on for six best practices for managing employee attendance issues, and download our free sample attendance policy to get started.
1. Develop a Comprehensive Attendance Policy
A formal attendance policy allows you to set consistent and specific expectations throughout your organization and detail the disciplinary procedure for violating the policy. Once you establish attendance rules for the workplace, share them with the entire company and enforce them consistently.
Download and customize our sample attendance policy here:
Your policy, at a minimum, should include the following:
- Disciplinary actions
- Appeals process
- Employee acknowledgment
Not only does a formal attendance policy ensure consistency across the board, it also sets specific benchmarks for attendance, making it easier to measure performance and hold individuals accountable. By detailing your disciplinary procedure surrounding attendance in the policy, you can address employee attendance issues promptly and efficiently.
2. Use Time Tracking Software
While there are different ways to track your employees’ hours, using time and attendance software can increase employee accountability and reduce absenteeism. It can help you monitor hours, tardiness, and absences, manage scheduling, and track vacation and sick time. It can even handle other facets of employee management, including payroll and compliance with labor laws. By doing so, you can identify patterns and take steps to improve attendance.
We recommend using software like Rippling to automatically track employees’ hours—from clock-in to payroll. It allows you to customize the system to fit your company’s needs and receive notifications when errors occur, such as an employee reaching overtime hours. Sign up for a Rippling plan and your first month FREE.
Time tracking software offers several additional benefits beyond just monitoring employee attendance. Managers can gain valuable insights into productivity by analyzing the data collected from the software, including identifying peak productive hours, spotting any changes in work patterns, and optimizing schedules accordingly. This not only boosts productivity but also allows for more effective use of resources within the company.
3. Measure Performance
Your measurement of employee performance has a direct correlation with attendance. By making attendance a performance duty that employees are measured against, the employee should easily understand what the repercussions are for not complying. If you have accurate time and attendance tracking, you can rank employees based on their attendance and performance.
Measuring performance will help you know how to improve employee attendance. While tracking the number of days an employee is present can be helpful, it fails to provide a comprehensive picture. A more effective method is to measure performance based on punctuality, reliability, and engagement. For example, an employee who is frequently late or often takes long breaks may not be fully engaged in their work. By measuring this, you can pinpoint areas for improvement and offer support or training to help employees foster better attendance habits.
Consider recognizing employees for excellent performance. If you want to create a culture and system that encourages them to show up for work, find ways to incentivize them. These do not have to be expensive programs—you can develop ways to entice your team members (movie tickets or $50 gift cards) or simply give a public acknowledgement during team meetings or on your company message board.
4. Discuss Attendance Issues
Do not wait until a scheduled one-on-one meeting or the annual employee evaluation to discuss performance and attendance. Supervisors should take the initiative by addressing attendance issues with employees immediately. This is crucial as every manager must be accountable for their teams’ attendance and overall productivity.
It is important to set clear expectations with employees before any issues arise—and if you have a clear plan in place to handle concerns immediately, then it will likely lead to changed behavior. This is where a formal attendance policy comes into play—to establish a process for handling attendance in a swift manner and through company policies.
Scheduling team training or a development workshop that includes segments on managing employee attendance and performance will keep supervisors educated on what is expected.
5. Offer Adequate Time Off
Companies that offer robust paid time off (PTO) benefits may see a rise in attendance and productivity among their employees. If you offer ample time away from the workplace, then employees will, more than likely, develop a habit of scheduling their days off (as opposed to unscheduled call-outs). This will allow you to find replacement coverage, move project deadlines, and balance workloads throughout teams.
Determine the type of PTO you want to offer your employees. Is it a set amount of time per year? Is their time off given all at once or accrued? Do you offer unlimited PTO? Typical PTO policies have accrued time off on a monthly basis, with a total of 10–15 PTO days per year.
Creating industry-leading PTO policies and benefits will help you retain and attract top talent, as PTO is one of the most sought-after benefits by employees today.
6. Provide an Employee Assistance Program (EAP)
Although commonly overlooked, EAPs are cost-effective, easily offered tools to allow employees access to third-party, anonymous (for the employee) assistance. When it comes to attendance issues, sometimes employees are simply experiencing a challenging time in their lives and need someone to talk to.
EAPs can help by providing a buffet of services that range from counseling referrals to financial guidance, initial legal counseling, and fitness and diet webinars. The idea is that, in many cases, an EAP can provide support through one of its programs, which in turn can help the employee deal with personal issues that might be affecting their attendance.
EAPs are delivered at no cost to employees as part of a company’s health insurance plan. Rippling offers EAPs through its professional employer organization (PEO), which offers payroll and benefits to your employees.
The Most Common Employee Attendance Challenges
There are many reasons employees show up late for work or call in to notify you of absence, and these can range from illness to lack of motivation. Having an attendance policy in place can help ease employee absence due to the following:
The most common reasons employees do not report to work are sicknesses or bodily injury. These can be due to:
- Flu and/or the common cold
- Back pain
- Injury caused by accident
- Sick family member
While there are employees who abuse sick days by calling in when they are well, it is required in some states that an employer provide paid sick leave to their employees. Additionally, as a business owner, you must adhere to the Family and Medical Leave Act’s family leave laws.
Many employees suffer from stress, anxiety, or depression as a direct result of their jobs. This can lead to a lack of desire to go to work and a drop in performance. When this happens, employees are more likely to be absent regularly.
Work-related stress can be created by:
- Long hours
- Intense workload
- Conflicts with co-workers or manager
- Lack of job security
There are many things employers can do to help combat work-related stress, including providing employees with resources and support, creating a culture of open communication, and promoting work-life balance. By taking steps to address stress in the workplace, employers can not only improve employee well-being but also boost morale and productivity.
When an employee is looking for another job, they are likely to take time off to attend interviews. This can lead to decreased productivity and increased absences from work. While you may not be aware that a worker is looking for another job, if you do know, then allowing them to take time off for job interviews can help reduce turnover and retain talented workers. It may also improve morale and send a message that the company is supportive of its employees’ career development goals.
According to a recent study, 53% of employees are either looking for new employment or at risk of leaving.
Some employees simply lack the motivation to show up for work. This can be because they are unhappy in their jobs or just don’t have the drive to work. Either way, it’s a problem for employers.
When employees lack motivation, it can lead to poor performance and a negative attitude at work. This can make it difficult for employers to maintain a productive and positive workplace. There are, however, a few things employers can do to try and improve employee motivation.
- Provide incentives for good attendance
- Offer training and development opportunities
- Create a positive work environment
Ultimately, you want to provide a culture where your employees feel valued, and their contributions are accepted. This will help increase motivation and employee engagement.
The industry you are in can also contribute to the nature and number of call-outs. For example, if you are in the food service industry, you may have policies that prevent ill employees from reporting to the workplace. Likewise, construction jobs that are physically demanding and outdoors often result in fatigue and, at times, disenchanted workers who simply choose to take a day off.
The retail industry also has many explanations for why absenteeism is such an ongoing challenge. There are many first-time workers in entry-level jobs in retail; these positions often include heavy daily interaction with customers—which can quickly wear employees down.
Did You Know? According to BLS.gov, the average absenteeism rate for full-time wage and salaried employees is 3.6%. These rates jump to 4.2% for restaurant workers and 4.0% for retail employees.
Cost of Absenteeism
Employee attendance issues can have a significant impact on a company’s financial well-being. The most obvious is the cost of lost productivity—when employees are not present, the work doesn’t get done.
However, there are also indirect costs that companies often overlook. For example, having to hire temporary staff or pay overtime to cover for absent employees can strain your budget. When one team member is absent, others may be forced to take on additional responsibilities or temporarily put their own tasks on hold to compensate for the absence. This leads to lost productivity, which can affect a company’s bottom line.
Absenteeism costs companies, on average, $340 a day for full-time employees and $170 a day for part-time employees; and missed work is estimated to cost the US economy over $47 billion a year in lost productivity.
While absenteeism creates a difficult workplace, it can be avoided. By managing employee attendance and developing a fair attendance policy that addresses matters adequately, your company can save money and reduce absenteeism. Additionally, offering a robust PTO policy that includes vacation and sick time can decrease the number of times workers do not show up for work.
Consider using Rippling to track your employees’ time and attendance. Sign up before Dec. 1, 2023, and get your first month FREE!