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It’s “What’s Up? Wednesday”. Time to talk about Improving Attendance . . .

You asked:  “Do you have any suggestions to help us improve attendance?

The answer:

While an occasional sick day is inevitable for most of us, chronic absenteeism is a costly problem for many employers. If you are dealing with employees that regularly burn through their sick days (and beyond), your real issue is probably not germs and viruses. Though you can’t manage employee’s attitudes or work ethics, you can do a lot to influence them. Before we discuss policies and disciplinary actions, you may need to take an objective look at a few other factors including:

  1. Stress levels in the workplace: Are workloads balanced? Is proper training given? Are supervisors listening to employees concerns? Do employees feel free to bring concerns to their supervisors in the first place? Do employees know how to seek assistance for personal issues?
  2. Break rooms: Is there somewhere employees can go to take a break? Is it clean and clutter-free? Is there adequate seating? Maybe a coffee machine and fridge for their convenience and comfort?
  3. Scheduling: Are shift schedules making it difficult for employees to balance work and family responsibilities?
  4. Workplace environment: Is the workplace safe? Is it clean and well maintained? Are indoor spaces adequately lit with comfortable temperatures?

Some of these issues will require careful evaluation and may not offer easy fixes. Your attendance policy, however, should be straightforward.  Which brings us to an important question – Do you have an attendance policy? If so, is it clear and concise? Do your employees know the policy? Do you consistently enforce it? If you answered “no” to any of these questions, this should be your first “fix”.

After you’ve considered all of that, you might like to know that many companies have had success with attendance incentive programs that reward conscientious employees. The best incentives are usually cash or free time. However, you know your team best. Maybe there is something else that would motivate them more? To get your creative juices flowing, here is an idea of how three such programs might work:


In this program, full time employees receive a cash bonus for each day that they have been on time, dressed appropriately, and performed satisfactorily (as determined by their supervisor). The amount they receive can be based on the number of successive years of employment and may begin at $2.00 per day and increase as much as $1.00 per day for every year of employment. The amount can accrue and be paid out quarterly, semi-annually or annually.

Bonuses can be doubled for days when the employees work was recognized as “Exemplary” by supervisors, coworkers, and/or customers. One employer even triples the reward if a customer sends a written commendation regarding good service given by that employee.


This program appropriately rewards perfect attenders with extra time off. When an employee attains perfect attendance during any calendar quarter (that means NO recorded tardiness or absences, excused or unexcused) he/she becomes eligible for a half day (four hours) of vacation time to be used anytime within 12 months of earning it.


Okay, it’s not really a reward-based incentive program like the other two. But offering flexible schedules may be a great fix for your attendance troubles. Since not everyone is at their best between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., some employers offer flexible scheduling to employees/positions for which it’s appropriate.  For example: instead of arbitrarily requiring all employees to be at their desks at 8:00 a.m., some employers might allow their “morning people” to begin work at 7:00, while their slow starters can come in at 9:00 and work later. This not only takes natural biorhythms and family schedules into consideration, but it allows employees with longer commutes to work around heavy traffic.

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