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How to Improve Attendance in the Workplace

by Chris Miksen, studioD

A 2010 study conducted by Kronos Inc. and human resource consulting firm Mercer found that unplanned absences amounted to an average cost of 5.9 percent of a company's payroll in the United States. That's not a number to scoff at, so improving attendance often serves as one of the top problems that managers need to remedy. Working with your employees and helping them improve their attendance will often yield better results than opting for an iron fist.

Reiterate your company's attendance policy. Gather your group for a quick chat. Explain that you've noticed a drop in attendance recently, and give a quick rundown on the company's policy regarding tardiness and absences. At this point, don't single anyone out. Keep the talk light, and briefly explain that excessive attendance problems bring down production, put more stress on co-workers and ultimately hamper the goals your team is trying to achieve.

Keep detailed attendance records. You need to know if an employee came in late and what time he arrived or if he was absent, if he called to inform you of his absence or tardiness, if he provided an excuse and what day his absence or tardiness occurred on. This is important for a few reasons. You'll need the information when you address the employee in question and for disciplinary purposes. Keeping records also will allow you to spot any patterns that may arise, such as specific days when an employee is absent or late.

Send out an anonymous survey. You want to gauge what employees think could improve in the workplace. One way to do that is by asking on a scale of 1 to 5 what your employees think about workplace conditions, management, communication and so forth. Make sure you explain the survey is anonymous. If your employees aren't happy with their job, for one reason or another, they're less likely to come in. Work to address their concerns and your attendance problems may slowly disappear.

Talk to problem employees in a timely manner. If after your reiteration of the company's attendance policy and attempts at addressing employee concerns you're still experiencing an attendance problem, have a chat with the employees who are arriving late or not at all. Tell them that they're lack of attendance is a problem. If you notice a certain day of the week they're late or absent, bring that up. Touch on how often they've been tardy or absent in a given period, and again explain why they're attendance is vital to the success of the company.

Offer to help. Don't just talk about how an employee's attendance problem is causing issues or how he needs to start showing up regularly. Ask him if there's anything you can do to help him arrive in a more timely manner or miss fewer days of work. Maybe he has a child who he needs to drive to school certain days through the week or he's battling family problems. Work with him by adjusting his schedule, talking about counseling services your company has, if applicable, or coming up with ideas as to how he can improve his attendance.

Recognize an employee's good attendance. A simple, "Thanks for showing up consistently and working hard" can mean a lot to someone. Other options include allowing employees who surpass an attendance threshold in a given time period to make their own schedule or wear casual clothes to work for the week. The reward doesn't have to be huge.


  • When addressing an employee's attendance issue, do so in private.
  • You must consider disciplinary actions should an employee continue to miss work or arrive late for unexcused reasons.

About the Author

Located in Pittsburgh, Chris Miksen has been writing instructional articles on a wide range of topics for online publications since 2007. He currently owns and operates a vending business. Miksen has written a variety of technical and business articles throughout his writing career. He studied journalism at the Community College of Allegheny County.

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