How to Address Attendance Issues in the Workplace

Jenay Sellers | Jan 06, 2020

Handling Employee Attendance Problems

One of the most significant struggles for business owners is employee attendance problems. Every manager has dealt with the frustrating situation of having an employee arrive late, or even worse, not at all. As a business, you rely on employees arriving at their scheduled time.

No matter your industry, having last-minute Worker cancellations isn’t good for anyone. For construction businesses, Workers arriving late can mean missing deadlines and disappointing clients, which can have a seriously detrimental effect on your business. For retail, it can mean losing customers to other stores with better customer service (more staffing) or having to delay store opening or closing if no one is available to work. For hotels and restaurants, it can mean significantly delaying service, which can mean customer compensation or receiving bad reviews.

The biggest excuse most businesses hear when employees are late or call out is, “I’m sick.” According to a CareerBuilder study, 38% of employees have called into work sick when they’re feeling perfectly fine. Some of the other more memorable excuses employers heard were:

  • My grandmother poisoned me with ham.
  • I’m stuck under the bed.
  • My wife found out I was cheating. I need to spend the day retrieving my belongings from the dumpster.
  • I’m going to the beach because my doctor said I needed more vitamin D.

As comical as these excuses are, staffing attendance problems are no joking matter. Having strict attendance policies (and corresponding disciplinary actions) in place is vital to the success of your business.

Start With Attendance Policies

Have clear guidelines on what differentiates absent from tardy, and note the severities of each.

The most important part of a company’s attendance policy is creating it with clear and concise guidelines. If you don’t spell out what differentiates being absent from being tardy, and the varying severities of each, you won’t be able to uphold your policy. Some employers use point systems to clearly communicate the definitions and the consequences of each. For example:

  • Tardy (Without call): Worker tardiness is defined as showing up 1-120 minutes after the start of your shift. Points are assigned based on the amount of time that has elapsed since your shift start time.
    • 1-30 minutes late – 2 points
    • 31-60 minutes late – 4 points
    • 61-120 minutes late – 6 points
  • Absent: Workers who do not show up for an assigned shift will have points assigned based on whether or not they have communicated their absence.
    • Absent with call – 4 points
    • Absent without call – 10 points and automatic termination

Once you define your attendance policies and their infractions, you can create rules by which you can reprimand your staff. In the example above, receiving a total of 5 or more points could make you ineligible to be scheduled for the next two weeks.

Create Consistency

Hold all employees to the same standards, regardless of their position or tenure. One of the largest attendance mishaps I’ve encountered as both a manager and employee is Workers not being held to the same standards. Allowing managers and supervisors to disregard attendance policies without discipline, while disciplining line-level employees for the same offenses, not only strains the relationship between Workers and their managers, but also makes it extremely difficult to uphold the attendance policy.

Communicate Clearly

Clearly state at what point an absence goes from being excused to unexcused. You can do this by stating the timeframe the employee has to let their manager know they will be late. For example, you may allow the employee to contact their manager up to 2 hours past their start before considering the absence as a no call, no show. 

Create A Process

Make sure there is a clearly communicated process by which employees can report an absence. Outline requirements so they know what is expected of them. You can tell them they need to speak directly with their manager (not a coworker), or communicate their absence in writing by sending their manager an email. Especially if their manager is not available at the time they call. If they do not speak with a manager, the email provides a timestamp, so you have a record of the date and time the employee sent notice of their absence.

The Punishment Should Fit The Crime

Set appropriate disciplinary actions for tardiness or absenteeism. As frustrating as attendance problems are, creating an unfair policy will only hurt your potential to attract top talent. You can’t be too easy on frequent policy-breakers, but it’s okay to understand that sometimes things come up. While the policy should be followed, some exceptions may warrant a one-time reprieve.

While the best-case scenario is having 100% of your employees show up on-time every time, this is not always the case. Luckily, there are ways you can find skilled, temporary Workers on short notice. In the unfortunate instances where you find yourself in a last-minute staffing struggle, GigSmart is here to help you find and hire the Workers you need in minutes. Posting your first Gig is completely free, and we have a dedicated staffing support team who’s primary responsibility consists of helping you find your next Worker. 

Interested in giving it a try? Download our Get Workers app to get instant access to 120,000 available Workers right now.

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