Methods of Improving Employee Attendance Records

Every time an employee misses a day of work there is a cost. There is a reduction in productivity as regular work flow is interrupted. Project dead lines are affected and customer service may be reduced. There may also be a labour cost if the employee receives paid sick days.

Many managers are at a loss when dealing with the frustrations of employee absence. In most situations the absence is due to legitimate reasons and managers need to respect that. However, there are ways to minimize the effect of employees who abuse the system.

Some companies will try to enforce absenteeism policies by following strict rules. Although this may get results it can also create an unhealthy environment with management and staff pitted against each other. Demanding doctors notes, documenting sick calls, and docking pay will all contribute to employee dissatisfaction.

So where does that leave management? There are ways to reduce employee absence with a more positive approach. Focus on reinforcing desirable behaviour and building trust between management and staff. Here are some ideas to help improve attendance.

Absence Monitoring

Keep track of employee absences. This does not mean that it is documented in an employees file, just that management is tracking who is absent and when. The purpose is to identify trends. If several employees are frequently sick on Fridays, then perhaps they are abusing the system.

This information can also provide clues about what is triggering the absences. Is there a particular job or shift that has a higher level of employee sick calls? This could indicate employee satisfaction issues that management are unaware of.

Look at the Job to Reduce Workplace Absenteeism

Consider job redesign. Are the positions in the organization challenging and interesting? Although not every job can be engaging at every moment, all jobs should have elements of interest. An employee who is engaged and interested in their work will be reluctance to miss a day.

By examining each job, in particular ones that have a high absence rate, management can improve employee satisfaction. A job analysis can offer details on the day to day duties each employee deals with. Bottom line, happier employees call in absent less often.

Flexibility Reduces Absenteeism

Examine the flexibility of the company. Is the business doing anything to help employees cope with the stresses of balancing a career with personal life? Does the company allow staff to take time off for appointments? Would a flexible schedule policy help employees with children better manager day care arrangements? Can employees work from home?

When the organization can be flexible employees are less likely to take a day off to catch up on personal business. They know they can work in a meeting with a teacher, or a medical appointment without any penalty.

Reinforce Excellent Employee Attendance

Take the time to recognize those employees who have an excellent attendance record. Personally thank them, and make sure their commitment is reflected in their performance appraisal.

Provide incentives for other employees to improve their attendance record. A small bonus for those who have perfect attendance is one idea. Some managers like to draw for a prize at the end of each month. Those employees with good attendance records get to participate.

Employee absenteeism can be a financial drain on a company. However, there are ways to encourage employee attendance in a positive manner. First, take the time to monitor attendance. Consider making changes to job duties and creating a more flexible work environment. Finally, recognize and reward those employees who have a good attendance record.


Rabinda N. Kanungo. Manuel Mendonca. Compensation. Toronto. John Wiley and Sons. 1997.

Thoma H. Stone. Noah M. Meltz. Human Resource Management in Canada. Toronto. Harcourt Brace & Company. 1993.

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