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How to Encourage Attendance at Work

Addressing Unscheduled Absences

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Attendance is critical in many customer facing jobs. Poor attendance saps employee morale, costs employers overtime expenses, and reduces employee engagement. Poor attendance takes supervisory time and attention and often results in disciplinary action. You can manage employee attendance to reduce attendance problems. Here's how to manage and encourage attendance. Use these steps to encourage employee attendance at work.

Steps to Encourage Employee Attendance

First, you must have a way to track the time people take off from work so that the integrity of your Paid Time Off (PTO) policy, your sick leave policy, and / or your paid vacation policy is ensured. This also ensures that the time off rules are the same for everyone which is important for the sense of workplace fairness and justice.

This is especially important to manage unscheduled absences for which many workplaces have trouble with work coverage. Encouraging employee attendance is important for any customer facing work station. Attendance is also critical when one employee's work is dependent on the work of the prior employee in jobs such as manufacturing or assembling products.

Teachers, customer support specialists, technical support providers, health care professionals, and other employees are examples of employees who have work stations that must be staffed.

Second, and probably most importantly, you need to manage absenteeism and encourage employee attendance. This means that the employee needs to call in directly to the supervisor who is trained to manage absenteeism. This starts with the personal call and the supervisor telling the employee that he or she will be missed and describing the impact of their absence on the workplace.

Each absence ends with the supervisor personally welcoming the employee back to work, encouraging employee attendance in the future, and once again, emphasizing the impact of the employee's absence on the workplace and their coworkers.

Third, if possible, allow flexibility with schedules in your workplace so that an employee with an early doctor's appointment or a sick child, as examples, can work later or come earlier to make up the time. Women, unfortunately, according to U.S. Department of Labor figures, experience more attendance problems related to family matters. Especially single moms, with no safety net of family or a partner, struggle with attendance, in my experience.

So, this workplace flexibility might also include the ability to share jobs, schedule flexible days or hours, and work from home, or telecommute, under guidelines. I'm not a huge fan of compensatory or comp time because I believe it encourages a clock-watching attitude that is not in keeping with the accomplishment of the whole job and goals that I look for in an exempt or salaried employee. But, exempt jobs are the jobs that will most frequently allow flexibility.

Fourth, rewards and recognition for positive employee attendance can make a difference. While you don't want people feeling as if they must be paid extra for doing their job, you do want them to know that you appreciate and respect their positive attendance. In some cases, especially with non-exempt employees, and to reduce unscheduled absences, you may want to build actual monetary rewards into your employee attendance policy.

Finally, as with any employment responsibility, an employee must experience consequences if the employee is failing in his or her work attendance. To whom is this the most important? To all of the employees who have good attendance, work hard, and find their personal morale and motivation affected by people who have poor attendance. Progressive discipline is critical, starting with coaching and feedback, and performing the steps in attendance management listed above.

You can more effectively manage attendance if you follow these steps to reduce absenteeism.

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