For the same reasons it mattered in school and just about every scheduled event or function you’ve taken part in, attendance matters in the workplace.
Frequent tardiness or absence is a red flag that can tarnish the reputation of any individual, signaling at best a habitual and distracting problem, and at worst, a blatant lack of regard for others. To employers, it represents an inability to abide by even the most basic of workplace rules and can be a source of friction for colleagues burdened by the lack of consistent support.
While a few minutes late here and there can easily be made up for, frequent absenteeism/tardiness can present long-lasting issues, especially when depended upon in a small business. If you’re interested in creating a culture of accountability, here are some ways to encourage employee attendance at work:
Recognize and reward good attendance
Set a precedent for valuing and rewarding punctuality. Discuss the importance of solid attendance during the onboarding process and make it one of the first things to be evaluated in employee reviews. Verbalize your appreciation to employees who have excellent attendance, and reward them by providing perks.
For instance, if an employee doesn’t miss a single day of work in a quarter, you can allow them to choose an incentive from an employee incentive catalog. Or, you could add an additional day off to their PTO, comp them public transportation passes, or even a company-paid lunch.
Appeal to their interests by making it personal
Not all jobs require set times, but some do. Explaining the occupational reasoning behind the pressure for punctuality can help employees understand why they must be present when scheduled. Certain industries require a punctual workforce, such as service-based industries.
Other industries may be known for providing more flexible scheduling, such as programmers and software developers. Taking the time to explain that punctuality is a necessary part of the job can illuminate the need for your employees to be timely. When one cog in the machine can throw off the entire mechanism, inconsistent attendance can be detrimental.
Document absences in an HR policy
Employees know that lateness is frowned upon but formally addressing the topic in a written policy can help cement the importance of arriving to work as scheduled. In your policy, set clear expectations regarding what’s considered late, i.e. whether grace periods exist, whether time rounding is implemented, and how attendance is tracked.
Modern time tracking allows you to track your employees’ absences and lateness with real-time alerts that notify you when employees are late or have an unscheduled absence. If lateness occurs, are employees expected to contact their supervisor? How will excessive absenteeism/tardiness be handled? Are there disciplinary measures in place? Now’s the time to get it in writing.
It’s expected of all employees
Lead by example and be even-handed in how you apply the attendance policy. Make sure that you enforce the rules across the entire company, and make it clear that behaviors and attitudes count in the workplace.
If an employee is struggling, talk with them privately, and make an effort to hear them out. It’s important for you to get to the root of the issue and move forward appropriately. If the employee offers to make the time up by staying later, consider whether that’s an acceptable trade-off. Above all else, make it clear that punctuality is expected and should be strived for.