Admittedly, we all need a day off now and then. But what happens when employee absences or lateness become chronic or happen often enough that it affects performance? Management needs to take on these situations as quickly and efficiently as possible, both on a case-by-case basis and in terms of overall office policy.
A few suggestions for dealing with and reducing attendance issues:
- On a larger scale, it helps to have an attendance policy in place, one that is explained early on and easily understood and accessible. Make your expectations clear: Some people’s definition of “on time” is right at 9:00; others consider it to be 8:55, while some don’t mind if an employee arrives five minutes late on occasion. Lead by example yourself by coming in early, leaving a bit late, and taking as few sick days as possible. Make clear, as well, what the policy is for repeated offenses. Some suggest a multitiered policy, starting with a verbal warning, moving to a written warning/meeting, a second meeting and/or suspension, and finally suspension/termination.
- A manager needs to look for the signs of poor attendance and act accordingly. Look for patterns in poor attendance: Is an employee constantly taking “sick days” on Mondays or Fridays to stretch out a weekend? Is she chronically fifteen minutes late, implying not a traffic jam but a casual attitude to the job? Does this person take off work during a busy or stressful time for the team? Does he take a day off after you know he’s gone out the night before, implying he’s partied too hard? Stay on top of these trends and respond as quickly as possible. Keep track of these sorts of absences using available software or even a code you can put in your Outlook calendar that only you would recognize (instead of “John Smith – late 15 minutes” write “JS – L15m”).
- Understand the reasons for poor attendance and act accordingly. Three major factors that influence tardiness and absence are:
- workplace factors: Does the person come from far away? Is the job unpleasant to go to every day? Does it often require longer hours than originally anticipated?
- attitudinal and stress factors: Does the workplace inspire commitment or is constant change creating uncertainty? Are roles and requirements clearly defined?)
- domestic factors: Do people with younger children have to take off every time there’s an illness/school closing? And does the workplace allow for flexibility in that regard?
If a company can address those factors through management, it demonstrates an understanding for employee concerns — and an understanding of what needs to happen in order to maintain a flexible and successful workplace.
- Everyone, no matter how young or old, could use a reward every now and then. See about having an award program for those who have perfect attendance or no lateness for a certain period of time. It could be a paid day off, a gift card to a local restaurant, or whatever you deem appropriate. This shows that, while you’re tough regarding absences, you recognize those who respect that.
Dealing with absences and tardiness clearly and consistently will help alleviate the problem, whether it’s understanding the need for flexible scheduling or responding promptly to those few repeat offenders. If you take the steps, you’ll cut down on absences and increase productivity, two things you definitely want.
For additional management strategies or to pair with a strategic staffing partner, reach out to the staffing experts at Creative Staffing today.