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HR Policies

How to Handle Late or Absent Employees

Since the invention of the time clock, employers have obsessed over their employees’ time and attendance.  Why are employees late to work or absent?

  • Personal duties outside of work, primarily childcare.
  • Transportation issues such as heavy traffic or mass transportation delays.
  • Physical issues, such as illness or injury.
  • Rules resisters. Written policies are meant for others.
  • Internal clock issues, often blamed on slow transportation but really a psychological or cultural issue. 

Here’s what to do about it

  • Develop a clear attendance policy, with your expectations. 
  • Establish set schedules, whether the employee is at work or working from home. Frequent changes are disruptive.
  • Communicate the specific number of sick days, etc. employees are entitled to and the penalties for excessive absenteeism and lateness.  Stick to it.
  • Develop a culture of shared commitment.  Start by holding everyone to the same standards.  Criticizing some while ignoring the same behavior in others is a sure way to undermine your culture.  Rules resisters may respond to peer pressure more than to formal policies.
  • Promote a healthy workplace.  Sponsor flu shots, encourage the use of hand sanitizer, and provide discounts to the local gym and daycare center. 
  • Consider flextime or work at home policies. Valuable employees do have personal lives to juggle – have some sensitivity within the structure outlined above.

Establishing clear expectations is the best place to start.

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