5 Hallmarks of a Fair and Effective Attendance Policy

Posted on

December 16th, 2019


In a perfect world, employees would arrive on time, work diligently, and leave on schedule. However, a plethora of events can affect attendance—unexpected traffic, surprise illnesses, or sick children can wreak havoc on employee attendance. The worst-case scenario is rampant absenteeism with employees abusing their paid leave or shirking their attendance by arriving tardy, ducking out early, or taking excessive breaks.

Of course, the solution is to enact an attendance policy with clear guidelines, but several elements go into making an attendance policy palatable to everyone while eliminating absenteeism:

  1. Consider the company culture. If a manager is reworking or developing an attendance policy for the first time, it’s likely in response to ongoing problems with attendance. Not having a policy in place can make people lax about arriving on time or remembering to call in promptly for illnesses. There may be cultural factors at play affecting this behavior as well. For example, if most of the employees have young children, they have bus and school schedules to consider before leaving for work. Incorporating flextime may help resolve the issue or give employees options to ensure they arrive on time.
  2. Provide straightforward definitions. Employers should provide clear definitions for attendance infractions. For example, there should be separate categories for no-shows, absences, unscheduled absences, and sick days. The disciplinary procedures should align with the type of absence as taking a planned day off work has very different effects than an employee who didn’t show up at all without notification.
  3. Discipline that suits the scenario. Employers should look at the overall effect each type of attendance scenario enacts on their business. For example, someone running five minutes late does not have as large of a ripple as someone who arrives an hour late. The same is true of someone scheduling an absence to take care of preventative healthcare such as getting the flu shot and an employee who calls an hour after they were due into work to say he or she isn’t coming. A three-strike policy for each scenario up a progressive discipline chain can allow managers to keep track of trends as well as give employees enough leeway to keep the policy fair.
  4. Get employee input and signatures. Even if a policy is fair, no employee is going to take kindly to having new rules dropped on them without notice. Consulting with employees to gain their perspective can offer insights employers hadn’t considered. Once everyone reaches a consensus, having employees sign the policy can help keep them accountable.
  5. Follow the golden rule. Treating others how you want to be treated isn’t a new concept, but employers can lose sight of it while juggling the many demands of running a company. The easiest benchmark is to make sure the employer can comply with the policy without bending over backward to do so. If the employer isn’t willing or able to meet the rules of the policy, then it’s too strict for employees as well.

If your business is struggling with attendance issues, Actec can help. Contact us to learn how our absence management system can help your company.