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5 Tactics for Managing Employee Attendance that Save Time and Money

“My dog ate the car keys.”

“A bear is in my yard, and I can’t leave the house.”

“My nails fell off, and I need to get a manicure.”

These are actual excuses managers have heard from employees as to why they can’t come into work, according to a CareerBuilder study. While these explanations are rather hilarious, employee attendance issues are no laughing matter for employers.

Excessive absenteeism can directly affect your bottom line, adding up to thousands of dollars every year. According to Absenteeism: The Bottom-Line Killer, a Circadian publication, unscheduled absenteeism costs roughly $3,600 per year for each hourly worker and $2,650 each year for salaried employees.

The costs can be attributed to many factors including:

  • Wages paid to absent employees
  • High-cost replacement workers (overtime pay for other employees and/or temporary workers)
  • Administrative costs of managing absenteeism

Other indirect costs and effects of absenteeism include:

  • Reduced productivity
  • Excess manager time (dealing with discipline and finding suitable employee replacements)
  • Poor morale among employees who must "fill in" or do extra work to cover absent coworkers

You can prevent these damaging costs and focus on the growth of your business by implementing attendance policies, as well as by taking a proactive approach toward unplanned absences. The following tips can help.

1. Determine the typical types of absences in your company.

You can’t solve the problem until you pinpoint the cause. By documenting the reasons for missed days and tardiness, you can spot and address troubling attendance patterns. Then, policies can be adjusted if necessary. Let’s look at a scenario:

ABC company is struggling with workers calling in sick last minute. The business offers employees a set number of sick days and personal days. In this case, the employer may want to change the attendance policy to a combined paid time off (PTO) bank so workers can use earned hours for any reason, including sick time, vacations and appointments. This is a solid alternative, so workers won’t be tempted to call in sick once they’ve depleted their personal days.

2. Use the right tools.

Paper-based tracking methods are better than not monitoring attendance at all. But with a manual paper process, managers may occasionally miss recording absences. And it’s difficult to see emerging patterns that strain productivity and drain profits.

Using an electronic attendance management system can save time and money. Plus, it can help eliminate errors from manual calculations. Today’s online applications place attendance information at your fingertips – and documenting time off is as easy as a few clicks of the mouse.

3. Strengthen employee relations.

When it comes to reducing absenteeism, communication is key. It’s critical that you create two-way channels to share information – and understanding – between employees and management. Employees will buy in to your goal of reducing unexpected absenteeism once they understand it’s a necessity for success. After all, when a company succeeds, the employees benefit.

Schedule a meeting so you can discuss the issue. Share the impact unexpected absences have on your business. Then encourage staff to contribute their ideas and solutions.

4. Counsel repeat offenders.

How you handle attendance issues is as important as how you identify them. If someone is abusing your attendance policy, hold a meeting and let the employee know that you’re concerned, how you expect the problem to be resolved and what the consequences are if the issue continues. Always give the worker a chance to respond. An individual may be undergoing certain medical treatments, for example, or caring for a family member. These types of absences are protected by law so it’s critical to determine the reasons for the violation.

After the meeting, if you notice a marked improvement, praise the employee and let him or her know you appreciate the effort. However, if you’ve tried everything and the employee continues to abuse the time-off rules, consider disciplinary measures such as preparing a written warning.

5. Don’t forget remote workers.

There’s no doubt it’s more difficult to monitor attendance for teleworkers than for on-site employees. But it’s even more important to spell out the rules for those working remotely. The first step is to create a remote time and attendance policy that lays out the guidelines regarding working hours, breaks, time off and leave approval.

It’s important to note that for non-exempt (i.e., “hourly”) workers, you must track their time to maintain compliance. The law doesn’t require a particular manner of timekeeping. But whichever method is used, the key is that the records must be an accurate reflection of employees’ hours or work.

For exempt (i.e., “salaried”) workers, you should not track work hours for pay purposes. And you should not establish fixed work hours, unless the role calls for it, such as a customer service manager who answers the phone during set hours. From a time-management perspective, you can specify when exempt employees must be available for meetings and collaboration.

Missed workdays can negatively impact a company’s bottom line. Implementing strategies to monitor, reduce and respond to absenteeism can help keep your business running smoothly.

Address Absenteeism Head On

Monitoring employee attendance and addressing unplanned absences can help ensure productivity so your business thrives. If you need assistance tracking worker attendance in your company, consider Attendance Calendar products from HRdirect. These solutions make it easy to track employee attendance and spot troubling patterns.