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Improving Employee Attendance: Communication is Key

October 22, 2019

manufacturing leader encouraging employee attendance

One of the most common pain points I hear from my clients is that they can’t get workers in the door. Some have reached the point where they would be happy with an employee that just shows up, regardless of the quality of their work. Attendance is a serious issue that effects almost all organizations. Having continuously absent workforce has a negative impact on productivity, the morale of other employees, and overall business success. It’s hard to make a profit when there are no workers to produce the products or provide the services.  

But what can organizations do to get their employees to come to work? Continue reading for some suggestion on improving employee attendance.  

Have a Clear Attendance Policy 

The first step in reducing attendance issues is having a clear, well communicated attendance policy. A good attendance policy should include the following:  

  • What it means to be absent or tardy (e.g., is anything after start time considered tardy, or are employees provided with a 15 minutes grace window?)  

  • A list of excused absences and how employees should go about getting the absence approved 

  • What the employee should do if they know they are going to be absent (e.g., who should the employee notify? Is it the employee’s responsibility to get their shift covered?) 

  • Disciplinary actions for attendance issues, including what warrants a disciplinary action (e.g., the first unexcused absence is a written warning, the second unexcused absence is probation, and the third unexcused absence is termination) 

Offer Incentives for Good Attendance 

Who suffers the most when people don’t show up? The other employees working on their team or in their area. They are the ones who will need to pick up the slack. Poor attendance from others can be draining on those who are there and can teach or encourage the negative behavior as well. That’s why it’s important to also reward those with good attendance.  

For new hires, consider rewarding those who have perfect (or almost perfect attendance) their first six months of employment with an extra paid day off. Or, provided employees who have perfect attendance for the month/quarter with a monetary reward such as a gift card. If these aren't feasible for your organization, consider simply recognizing those with good attendance publicly. Post on a bulletin board everyone that had perfect attendance or send out a company-wide email congratulating and thanking those with good attendance.  

Rewarding good attendance will inspire those who do show up to continue that behavior while simultaneously encouraging those with bad attendance to improve in order to receive a reward or recognition.  

Relay the Importance of Attendance 

After an employee has missed a day, talk with him or her about the impact that his or her absence had on the team. Don’t lecture or chastise the employee, but rather help them understand what an important part of the organization he or she is. Making the employee feel valued will help instill some pride and ownership over their work, hopefully encouraging better attendance.  

If you struggle with getting employees to show up to work, you’re not alone. It’s a very common problem that organizations in all different sectors and all different sizes face everyday. Unfortunately, there isn’t a clear solution to such a complex problem. However, having a clear policy and reinforcing the positive attendance behavior is a good start.  

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Cassandra Walter Cassandra Walter is a Consulting Associate located at PSI's Pittsburgh office. She holds a master's degree in Industrial Organizational Psychology. She works with clients across many different industries, including manufacturing, retail, customer service, and healthcare. Her areas of expertise include providing training and support for PSI’s applicant tracking system, as well as assisting clients with requests and questions regarding tools and processes.