Did you know that in a study conducted by the CDC, absenteeism cost U.S. employers over $225 billion each year? While life, and unexpected absences, happen to everyone, companies are working hard to find the exact right balance between productivity and attendance policies. And this can be made even more complicated if you don’t have a dedicated HR department. So what should be in your policy and what’s fair to expect from your team members? Let’s take a closer look.
Attendance and Work Culture
The most important thing to keep in mind as you develop your attendance policy is that your attitude toward attendance isn’t just a policy, it should be integrated into your corporate culture. Company culture is about the shared values, professional norms, and all of the things that make your company tick. Making attendance part of the everyday expectations, whatever that looks like for your company is the best first step.
Keep It Simple
In writing, you want to keep your attendance policy simple so it’s easy for everyone to understand and follow. You may think that showing up to work is good, not showing up to work is bad, and keep it at that, but there are specifics you’ll need to consider. What happens if someone doesn’t show up at all and never calls to let you know? If someone is an hour late is that treated in a different way than an employee who is 5 minutes late? Consider plain language around concepts like scheduled absence, unscheduled absence, or tardiness.
Create Realistic Consequences
Your attendance policy needs to clearly state what happens if someone is in violation. You need to spell out any disciplinary action and exactly when this will be enforced. For example, you may have different actions to take if someone is occasionally 5 minutes late versus someone who is regularly 20 minutes late. But what has become apparent is that “No Tolerance” policies do unfairly target employees who don’t have a history of absences and it will breed resentment when they are treated the same as someone who has consistent negative behavior.
Get Employee Input
One way to create a fair and equitable attendance policy is to discuss your options with employees. For instance, some companies work very well with a flex schedule system where employees have a window where they can arrive and it’s not a problem as long as they complete their regularly scheduled hours in total each week. For other companies, more strict adherence to start and end times is appropriate. Once you have crafted your attendance policy, bring it to your employees or management team to get buy-in.
Lead By Example
Of course, none of this is feasible if the employees see you with a “do as I say, not as I do” attitude. If they feel the rules only apply to them and not to management, they will quickly become frustrated. Even as a manager, you need to adhere to the company policies in place to make sure that it is adopted as a part of the company culture, not just as a means to control employee behavior.