Here’s a statistic that’s a tad surprising:

Whoa. If you find yourself in similar shoes, just know this practice is akin to lighting wads of cash on fire. Not keeping accurate records encourages employees to work less and take unaccounted time off simply because you allow it. Just know if you don’t think it’s a big deal to track attendance, employees are likely well aware of it.

Instead, you want more control over employee attendance, so your business runs like a well-oiled machine — without the aggravation of frequent call-ins, tardiness and other productivity-draining attendance issues.

Reduce Unaccounted Absenteeism with a Plan

While we can’t provide personalized operator manuals for every small business, we do know many employers are guilty of common attendance tracking oversights. Correct these five mistakes and you’ll be well on your way to managing attendance and keeping your business humming.

1. Not having an attendance policy.

Remember the burning money analogy above? Same applies here. A formal attendance policy is the foundation of any solid attendance management strategy. Whether it’s a stand-alone document or part of an employee handbook, your attendance policy should cover work hours, start and finish times, and the notification and reporting procedures if an employee is going to be late or absent due to illness or other circumstances. Communicate the policy with every employee, obtain signed acknowledgement and store the sign-off in the employee’s personnel file. These actions alone send a message to staff that you’re serious about attendance and dealing with those who abuse the rules.

In your policy, it’s wise to include language like:
  • Supervisors will set schedules based on the needs of the business.
  • Being late for work, or returning late from breaks or lunch, is considered tardiness.
  • Not reporting to work, or not notifying the supervisor of the reason for absence, is grounds for termination.

2. Having a policy, but applying it inconsistently.

A policy without practice is just words on paper. If you’ve made the effort to outline your attendance rules and expectations, be sure to enforce them consistently. Typically, employees in the same job category who report to the same supervisor should be subject to the same attendance rules. It might be considered discriminatory, for example, if you write up Rachel for arriving late three times in a month, while allowing Ross to slide with four tardies in the same period.

3. Not making attendance management every supervisor’s job.

The job of tracking employee attendance, as well as addressing problems, ultimately lies with supervisors because they are responsible for managing your workers. Like it or not, it comes with the territory — and it’s critical to your company’s success. Make sure supervisors are trained on the specifics of documenting attendance and how to enforce your policy when attendance issues arise.

4. Randomly capturing certain absences.

It’s important to capture every incident of absenteeism or tardiness, including the date, time and reason for each incident. Only then, can you quickly detect when an employee’s absences are becoming a pattern. With this documentation, you’ll also have all the necessary information at your fingertips to decide on disciplinary action, such as: the reasons for all absences and whether they are unexcused, excused or otherwise protected by law; troubling patterns (e.g., calling in sick after holidays); the overall impact of repeated tardiness in terms of “total hours missed’ and how an employee”s attendance compares with others. When employees know you’re holding everyone accountable, chances increase they’ll hold each other accountable, too.

5. Not addressing problems immediately.

Unmonitored attendance issues can quickly get out of hand — and undermine productivity and profits. Identifying the problem is the first step, which is easier to do with proper tracking. Once you notice a troubling pattern, talk to the employee immediately. Prepare for the discussion by gathering all the facts, such as the dates of the absences, the reasons for each incident and any supporting documentation or notes. For an employee attendance problem that persists despite verbal counseling, a formal disciplinary write-up may be necessary.

Take Advantage of an Online Attendance Tracking Solution

There are many different tools employers can use to effectively track attendance, including paper calendars and software. By documenting absences or tardiness with “reason codes” on a calendar-style format, you can detect attendance problems at a glance and address issues promptly.

Our Attendance Calendar app combines the best of both worlds — the simplicity of a paper attendance calendar with the added benefit of easy, online access.

  • If you’re not tracking attendance, you may have a problem you’re not aware of.
  • Start with a plan and get it in writing.
  • Share your policy with employees, and enforce it consistently.
  • Managers are the first line of defense and must be prepared to address issues swiftly.
  • Consider the benefits and ease of attendance tracking software.
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