How To Manage Employees’
Attendance: Strategy And Tactics

For decades, managing employees’ attendance has been understood as increasing employees’ presence time at the workplace and reducing absence time. Today, attendance management is focused on maintaining the right balance: its aspects include not only planning leave schedules, handling unscheduled absences and fighting absenteeism, but also getting employees to use their paid vacation and preventing the so called presenteeism at the workplace.

This makes attendance management process more complicated than ever before. Many factors need to be taken into account for developing and implementing an attendance management policy that would ensure predictability of teams’ capacities and healthy work environment. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the components of an efficient attendance management strategy.

Encourage employees’ presence at the workplace

For a bunch of professions, predictable presence of the team members at the workplace is crucial. This is the case of teachers, tech support providers, production line operators, medical specialists, and any employees on customer-facing positions. Their attendance requires special attention, as their unscheduled absences can cause severe issues that immediately affect workflows, plans, and customer relationships.

Rewarding positive attendance has proven to be not less efficient than punitive measures in case of absenteeism. And while monetary rewards may reasonably seem inappropriate – as most employers don’t want their employees to feel entitled to extra pay for just doing their job – there are other ways to show recognition.

Verbal recognition is an efficient way to express appreciation of employees’ attendance. People who feel appreciated are more productive and engaged at work, and more prone to the rewarded behavior. The key here is stressing the importance of good attendance for the team and the company’s goals: reliability, ability to stick to the plans, and general productivity.

In some cases, monetary rewarding can be an efficient method of increasing presence at the workplace. For example, this can work for non-exempt employees in order to reduce unscheduled absences. This method needs to be included in the attendance management policy that should define the number of days over which attendance is rewarded.

What’s also important here is to ensure the ability of the employees to use their earned time off. Taking regular vacations benefits employees’ wellbeing by reducing stress and fatigue, which decreases the risk of unscheduled absences. Thorough planning of vacation schedules and workloads helps avoid the problem of “irreplaceable” workforce and allows all the team members to use their vacation time.

Commit to defeat presenteeism

The hidden costs of presenteeism are no longer a secret. It’s been decades of fighting absenteeism before the employers realized that their efforts to minimize the costs of employees’ absences actually invite even greater costs. Stress-induced productivity decrease, health issues on the team (we all know how bad spreading germs is at the workplace) and accumulated dissatisfaction lead to work stagnation, low efficiency and missed deadlines, not to mention unhealthy work environment.

That’s why preventing presenteeism is one of the most important trends in today’s attendance management. Developing regulations that prescribe staying home when not being able to work properly is the first step that an employer needs to take against presenteeism. Giving guidance to the employees and letting them know that it is okay to stay home and not to turn up for work in case of an illness or an emergency is also a must.

Organizing an easy way to inform coworkers on last-minute schedule changes is also important here. For many employees, the problem of communication with the employer and team members in case of an emergency is what makes them turn up for work. You can easily prevent this by implementing an absence management system that allows to send quick absence notes or request sick leaves from a mobile device.

And, the last but not the least, the sufficient amount of paid sick leave time reduces the risk of presenteeism and its effect on the team. While for some employers it still seems unaffordable to offer a more generous leave time package than the law requires, in fact the lack of paid sick days creates the problem of presenteeism and invites even bigger costs.

Make workplace as flexible as possible

Of course, flexible schedules and the ability to work remotely doesn’t work for all professions and positions. However, if the nature of work performed by an employee allows to come in later or leave earlier, provide this possibility to them. This will not only allow people to get their work done at their earliest convenience, but also reduces stress caused by the combination of health or family issues and the obligation to show up at work at a specific time.

Remote work is another flexibility option that helps reduce unscheduled absences. Anyone knows the struggle of being too sick to show up in the office but being perfectly capable of performing the work itself. The ability to work from home eliminates the need to go to the office in order to get things done – so many employers provide ways to connect remotely to the workplaces or take work home.

Implement disciplinary actions for absenteeism

Relying on negative motivation is depicted as an unproductive management approach, but in some cases it is the only thing that works. Severe disciplinary issues, low morale and poor attitude are not uncommon at workplace, so attendance management policy should provide a straightforward way to manage absenteeism.

The common recommendation here is not to start with punitive measures right away. Progressive discipline is what works best, starting with coaching and clarification of attendance policy provisions. Often, constructive feedback given on early stages of a problem provides the solution: explaining attendance expectations and overseeing employees’ work after the given feedback is usually the only disciplinary action that needs to be taken.

Keep record of absences

Knowledge is power – this applies to attendance management, too. Having detailed records on employees’ planned absences helps plan work for the future periods, distribute workloads, and manage resource allocation. Many companies use special software tools for creating visual charts, reviewing all necessary details, and getting the most value out of absence data.

Keeping historical records is also important, and not only to calculate leave time balances. Having the data on unscheduled absences at hand allows managers to reveal attendance trends, predict possible staff shortages, and prevent workflow bottlenecks caused by attendance issues.

Summary

Managing employees’ attendance is a complex process that is closely connected to other processes and trends at the workplace. Building up a clear policy, explaining it to the employees, enforcing it, and staying informed on people’s absences is key for efficiently managing attendance dynamics in the team. Keeping detailed records of absence data and using them for both analysis and planning allows companies to overcome possible issues, maintain healthy work environment, and stay efficient and productive as a team.

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